Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The government is planning the most radical overhaul of key consumer laws in decades to keep pace with a changing marketplace – from botched online shopping experiences and shoddy haircuts at salons to exploding mobile phones.
The Ram Vilas Paswan-headed consumer affairs ministry has decided to amend the Consumer Protection Act 1986 to create a proposed National Consumer Protection Authority, aiming to update the country’s consumer protection laws in light of India’s new economy.
Indian consumers are increasingly buying newer goods and services not covered under current laws. For instance, there is no law yet for refunds in online shopping. What if you paid for a song download but ended up with an empty file? An early morning electric shock from a beard trimmer due to poor circuitry sounds funny, but there are no rules yet on product liability.
Several of the first-time provisions being envisaged will affect all businesses and may even force some firms to overhaul their systems and processes.
For the first time, the Bureau of Indian Standards – the country’s watchdog for product quality – will set up benchmarks for paid services, such as bus journeys, hotel packages and beauty clinics.
At present, the BIS Act 1980 covers just 90 products, most of which are industrial -- such as steel – that are rarely bought by individual customers.
Its basket is being expanded to include 2,000 items of common consumption. These include simple but life-saving equipment like a two-wheeler helmet, for which currently there are no prescribed quality standards.
“Class-action suits”, a legal tool, will now be extended to consumer laws, so that one individual complaint of a faulty product or service could be treated as an interest group of people in similar circumstances.
“There will be clear rules for recall of product, refund of product and return of product,” an official said.
The three-tier consumer-court system will continue but their process will be updated.
Currently, the district forum deals with consumer disputes where the value of the goods or the compensation claimed is less than Rs. 5 lakh and the state commission hears cases for claims exceeding Rs.5 lakh but not exceeding Rs. 20 lakh. The national commission hears claims exceeding Rs. 20 lakh and also decides cases challenging lower court verdicts.  

The official said a review showed there is no “authority of a federal nature” that deals with unfair trade practices. “All of this must be seen in light of the bigger countrywide picture as well as the Constitution, which in article 301 and 307 talks of a common national market,” the official said. Source: Hindustan Times


vijjy bhaskar said...

I am distressed and disheartened to bring to your kind notice about the double standards followed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in the disposal of cases.
1.On my Petition seeking transfer of my complaint (T.A. No.10/2013) against a Realtor-‘Gardenia Shelters Pvt Ltd’ pending in Dist. Consumer Forum, Greater Noida to the District Consumer Forum, New Delhi was agreed to without hassles on the basis of the following facts:-
2.At this advanced age of 70 years, I have been diagnosed with a congenital hole in the heart and associated complications and therefore felt difficulty to attend the proceedings in the Consumer Forum, Greater Noida which is 30 km from my residence (Flat No.B-1105, Gardenia “Grace”, Sector-61, Noida-201307).
3.However, the Application of my husband, S Srinivasa Rao (75 years-Retired Agricultural Scientist) of his complaint (T.A.No.12/2013) against Thomas Cook (India) Ltd pending in Dist. Consumer Forum, Greater Noida to the Dist. Consumer Forum, Delhi under the same circumstances was dismissed by the NCDRC without assigning any reason despite the following facts:-
My husband is a chronic diabetic and underwent Angioplasty on 13th March, 2003 after suffering a massive heart attack and is dependent on life saving medicines due to Left Ventricle dysfunction.
Dist. Consumer Forum, Greater Noida is far away and not well connected by public transport whereas Delhi Forum can very easily be reached by Metro Rail from Noida Central.
The Proceedings in Greater Noida Forum are conducted entirely in Hindi and my husband is handicapped in not possessing fluency in Hindi language.
4.It is very strange that wife’s application was considered on the same health grounds by NCDRC but in contrast my husband’s was rejected that too without giving an opportunity to plead when he appeared on 11.12.14 before NCDRC as a Party-in-Person in the case registered by the Dist. Forum, Noida afresh Vide No.414/14.
5.It is relevant to mention here that NCDRC is not flooded with many applications for transfer of this kind. It is evident from the T.C.No.5 registered in November, 2014 of my husband that only a single digit number have been received by NCDRC that too at an all India level in the year ending 2014.

5.My husband has retired from NSC; a Govt. of India Undertaking – not entitled for pension. Even CGHS facility availed by him during service was denied after retirement and therefore due to lack of financial resources, he is not in a position to challenge the unjust decision of NCDRC in the Hon. Supreme Court.
8.In the light of the position explained above, it is requested for appropriate action at your end to ensure NCDRC does not adopt different yardsticks in identical cases with pre-conceived notions and to take up review of my husband’s transfer application independently without influenced by the decisions of others and without discrimination. I am having robust optimism that you will restore my husband’s shattered faith in the country’s judicial system. I may kindly be pardoned if I had exceeded my limits in bringing to your kind notice the injustice meted out by NCDRC but to whom else I could represent with equal trust and confidence except your kind self?
ABV Vijayalakshmi
ABV Vijayalakshmi