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8 Things You Must Know About the New Consumer Protection Bill

The Lok Sabha on Thursday (20th December) has passed the Consumer Protection Bill 2018 which will now go to the Rajya Sabha. The new law will replace the obsolete Consumer Protection Act 1986. The 3-decade-old law is being changed to give more powers to the customers.

The new law will transform consumer rights in India by providing consumers as well as agencies with many more power than they presently have. Here are the key highlights from the Bill that a consumer should know:

1. The Bill suggests an executive agency - the Central Consumer Protection Authority that can intervene whenever it feels essential to protect the consumers from unjust trade practices. It can initiate class action against a firm, besides ordering recall or refund of products.

2. The Bill introduces a fresh concept of class action that means the legal responsibility of manufacturers and service providers will not be confined to one or a group of customers but towards all customers.

3. In this, the manufacturer, producer and the seller will be accountable for any personal injury, loss or damage resulting from faults in manufacture, construction, design, preparation, testing, service, warning, marketing, packaging and labeling of the product.

4. The Bill also proposes to eliminate the current structures for arbitrating consumer arguments at the district, state as well as national levels, making them more powerful.

5. The consumer arbitration cells will be linked to consumer commissions at all the levels to resolve the issues so that the commissions do not get flooded in too many cases.

6. The Bill also considers e-commerce. At present, a consumer can take legal action against a retailer or seller only at the place from where the transaction took place. But in the new law, consumers will be able to file a complaint online or in the consumer court from his place of residence.

7. It will also address composite supply or bundling of services, in which platforms that provide travel services and bundle services like hotel stays & airline tickets will also have to take responsibility for all the services.

8. The Bill proposes a penalty from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000, in order to discourage frivolous complaints.



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