Consumer Protection Amendments Under Consideration
- Consumer Protection Amendments Under Consideration
GoI Ministry of Food & Consumers Affairs is considering expanding the scope of CPA to include many more services under its purview.
NGO working for consumers may petition to the Secretary, Consumer Affairs to consider the following amendments.
1. Classify the complaints under two categories differentiating on the basis of ongoing deficiency restoration or installation of electricity connections which may be classified as Urgent Category and non urgent category where deficient service or defective product is over and claims are to be settled; Example- Non functioning of air-conditioning in train journey or inflated electricity bill paid under protest or compulsion.
Ø This will make it clear to the courts the focus cases where speed and immediate relief is desired.
Urgent Category; Where consumer has been served exorbitant electricity bill and either served disconnection notice, insurance policy claim is with held, delay in installation of electric connection or essential service and faulty refrigerator & car etc.
Complaints under Urgent Category are taken up speedy trial every day to at least once a week depending upon the urgency of the case.
2. Consumer Courts in case of under Urgent Category must give adequate relief to the consumer in interim order within a week.
Interim Relief; This could be in the form of restoration and installation of new connection within two days or release of insurance claim at a rate of 2% per month in the case life insurance policy and 10% in the case of defective vehicle or appliance like refrigerator.
Ø This will prevent Abuse of Consumer Courts when Opposite Party deliberately neglects to install the connection or restore it.
3. Penal Damages; In cases of deliberate and willful negligence in providing service to consumer or not obeying court orders or deliberately misleading the court should invite minimum of three times the actual loss suffered by the consumer. Example; Non functioning of air conditioner in train is deficient service and neglecting to pay refund and harassment invite penal damages. Non replacement of defective vehicle should invite penal damages.
Ø This provision is intended to eliminate Mal Practices of products and service providers and obviate abuse of law.
Ø Minimum penalty for deficient service be prescribed. Example; Wrong disconnection of electric connection may invite Rs.5000 plus Rs 500 per day penalty.
4. When the complaint is filed on an affidavit the consumer forum must address the deficient issues raised in such claims and the opposite party must reply to the complaint on an affidavit within three weeks and Consumers Courts shall decide the cases in 90 days.
Ø This provision is intended to root out corruption and delays.
5. Fees for filing complaints by consumers are withdrawn and instead 10% surcharge be imposed on the claim amount of Opposite Party to pay for cost of operations.
Ø This will reduce delays in filing of complaints and realizing cost of maintaining consumer courts from the deficient service and product providers.
Ø This will also make available funds to self sustain the consumer courts and introduce new internet and computer systems to better serve consumers.
6. All district forum orders be made available on internet or courts may post them on Free Websites either directly or through NGO.
Ø This essential step will enable consumers to access latest developments on evolution of the consumer courts.
7. In the absence of labs and testing facility professionals may be hired who may test the product in the presence of the parties or if possible to take it to consumer courts, test it in the Consumer Court itself.
Ø Electricity meters can be tested in the court itself and deficiency determined in the court itself in matter of seconds to hours depending on the type of Discom meter and test meter.
8. Class complaints by any qualified and expert be allowed in the National Commission or State Commission and definition of consumer to include Any Qualified Expert Acting In Public Interest Eligible To Class Action Complaint.
Ø This will obviate a situation where Discoms bribe certain organizations to certify their Rigged & Fast Meters to be functioning accurately.
9. Class Action Complaints; Specific provision of class action complaints in National Commission or State Commission be introduced and complaints under class action be classified as urgent.
Ø This will allow complaints like Disabling of Consumer Friendly Features in electricity meters to be admitted and disposed off in seven days.
10. Press be allowed to cover the court proceedings and telecast them live or delayed as per their convenience.
Ø This will educate and empower consumers at no cost to the government.
11. E-filing of complaints or affidavit, Court Notices, Court Orders and Cause List whenever possible be served by e.mails and cause list mailed to parties on the eve of court hearing.
12. Instead of story writing, e-filing will ensure the Court is to determine which points match the evidence and dont match are therefore required to focus on points in disputes. Thus Consumer Courts on first day of hearing of parties shall be considering points of disagreement- this will speed up disposal of cases.
Ø E-filed complaints will enable Stenos to accurately type court orders. This will speed up writing of orders avoid paper work and double or triple productivity.
13. Penal provision is introduced to Dismiss president of the courts who deliberately overlook points in complaints made on affidavits and come to wrong conclusions. And Superior Courts may hear any complaint of the consumers under this provision within 3 working days and decide within 10 days or such complaints be admitted on Saturdays. Also superior courts to write annual confidential reports and Presidents with clean record to serve until fit to serve by removing the age restrictions in the opinion of superior courts.
Ø This will filter out corrupt and incompetent judges and promote efficient judges to join and serve Consumer Courts.
Ravinder Singh November01, 2006
Time Of India Story.
Garbage piled up? Sue BMC
Aggrieved Consumers Could Soon Haul Civic Bodies, Service Providers To Court
Mahendra Kumar Singh | TNN
New Delhi: Are you sick of the garbage piling up in your locality? Enraged at mobile operators for violating your privacy by passing on your cellphone number to commercial callers? Or have you been duped by unscrupulous realtors? Hang on, help is on the way.
In a major step towards empowering citizens, the government is giving the finishing touches to changes in the law that will strengthen and widen the ambit of consumer protection. Among the proposed changes is a law that will allow you to haul the municipal authorities to the consumer courts if they fail to provide an array of servicesfrom street lighting and drinking water to drainage and health.
Seeking to expand the reach of the protection promised under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the amendments propose to expand the definition of consumer to include such goods and services for which relief can be obtained only in civil courts.
The government is also seeking to enable consumers to sue their service providers for passing on personal information to salespersons. In other words, those deluged by pesky calls from banks, insurance companies and the like will soon have the option of hauling up their service provider for disclosing personal information. There is an increasing trend of violation of the privacy of consumers. Hence it is considered essential to declare the right to privacy as a separate right, says the draft amendment.
And, for the first time, the rights of consumers are proposed to be laid down to protect citizens against goods which are hazardous to life and property, and to help them get authentic information on price and quality.
You can haul up your mobile service provider for giving your number to unsolicited callers. Banks too may have to pay for poor service
Unfair trade practice:
Stores can be penalised for refusing to issue a bill
Govt in the net:
Municipalities & govt agencies providing health and education can be pulled up for bad service
Choice of court will rest on consumers
New Delhi: The amendments mooted to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, by the department of consumer affairs are learnt to have been endorsed by the PMO after it was assured that the changes would not burden the exchequer. The matter is likely to be put up before the Union cabinet.
Once the amendments come into force, a company cannot insist on being liable to be tried only in a court of its choice. The government proposes to allow consumers to decide where they want to seek redress.
An investor will be able to approach a consumer court if the shares he had applied for are not allotted, and money he had paid is not refunded. At present, the investor has to move a civil court for redress. Likewise, manufacturers will be liable to be prosecuted also for goods which are likely to become hazardous to life and property in future.
The bill also seeks to classify real estate developers as traders, rendering them liable to be tried in a consumer court.
The amended bill, being circulated for other ministries opinion, will come up for cabinet approval soon and, if approved, it is likely to be introduced in the winter session of parliament.
Overseas agencies operating through e-commerce sites or telemarketing will no longer be able to sell unless they maintain an office or appoint an agent in India. Overseas sellers will have to provide details of their office or agent in the sale offer to allow consumers to file complaints.
E-commerce and service providers will be bound to refund buyers who did not have the opportunity to inspect the goods prior to purchase within the 30 days period if the goods and services are found to be defective by the consumer.
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