Lok Sabha nod to Consumer Protection Bill

Lok Sabha nod to Consumer Protection Bill

Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan. DH Photo.

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill to set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to uphold and protect consumer rights and also help them file class-action suits to sue a defendant as a group.

The Consumer Protection Bill also seeks to replace the 33-year-old Consumer Protection Act and aims at bringing the new law to protect consumer interests while availing a range of services as well as new-age developments such as e-commerce, direct selling, and telemarketing.

The bill was approved by the Lok Sabha by a voice vote with Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan assuring members that their concerns regarding the legislation would be addressed when the rules and regulations to implement the law will be framed.

The bill also has provisions to deal with class actions, product liability, misleading advertisements, liability for celebrity endorsements and others. It also addresses new-age developments like e-commerce, direct selling, and telemarketing.

As per the Bill, the CCPA will deal with matters relating to the violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practice and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and consumers.

Paswan said the CCPA will have an investigating wing headed by a director-general with powers to search and seize.

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi accused the government of succumbing to the “medical lobby” by agreeing to exempt healthcare from the ambit of the Bill.

However, Paswan said healthcare was exempted to protect the consumer from high medical expenses.

“If claims can be filed against doctors, there is a possibility that they would subject a patient to numerous tests just to be sure about the diagnosis they are making. This could hold true even for minor illness such as cough and fever which could be treated without diagnostic tests. This would unnecessarily burden the patients,” Paswan said.

Congress member Shashi Tharoor said the arbitration clause should not be allowed in consumer forum as it limits the forum's power to help the consumer.

Among other provisions, the bill has provisions for product liability action on account of harm caused to consumers due to a defective product.