Unfair Trade Practice With Reference to Consumer Protection Act 2019
In recent times, the topic of consumer protection law has garnered much attention company’s among the authorities and the citizens around the world.
Recently, the consumer protection Act of 2019 replaced the decades-old Consumer Protection Act of 1986. It is to be noted that the newer act was enacted with a promising view to widen the scope of consumer rights.
This was emphatically done to bring under its preview the field of e-commerce, teleshopping, direct selling, and other multi-levels of marketing.
This is quite crucial due to the fact that India is entering into the age of digitalization with no well-formulated laws to guide and protect consumer interest.
Thus, the newer laws bring into effect the scope of consumer protection in the day and age of digitalization which might turn out to be a nightmare for the users.
The act tries to enact stricter provisions that will aim at revamping the settlement and administration process. This will be done by emphatically and effectively imposing stricter penalties.
If the newer consumer protection act is to be scrutinized, the arbitrariness surrounding the definition of the consumer has been cleared.
As per a certain Section 2(7) of the 2019 Act, a consumer is any such person who effectively buys and ultimately consumes his or her purchases or avails services for his or herself.
This comes in contrast to the consumer who has availed of such services or goods for the purpose of commercial use and resale.
As a matter of fact, the definition specifically and strategically makes use of the expression “buys any goods” and “hires or avails any services”. This effectively includes all online transactions that are specifically conducted through electronic means or teleshopping or direct selling.
As aforementioned, the main jewel of the act is online transactions. Thus, one can effectively argue that the newer laws have been drafted keeping in mind the growing e-commerce business in India that is providing impetus to the advancement and usage of technology in the economy.
Unfair Trade Practices
It is worth mentioning here that talks about consumer welfare and protection, also bring to the fore the discussion about unfair trade practices.
Thus, given the importance and the certainty of the issue, how have the unfair trade practices been represented in the act? Section 2(47) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 largely and mainly defines ‘unfair trade practice’.
An interesting twist of events presents the fact that the scope of the definition of ‘unfair trade practice’ has been emphatically broadened. But what does this broadened scope of the definition encompass?
It is to be noted that the definition now includes the practices such as strategic manufacturing or offering spurious, deceptive, or bogus goods for sale.
Thus, the act takes into consideration the adaption of deceptive practices for providing services that might be adopted by the corporations that might lead to lower utility or welfare of the public.
The act also takes into consideration the factor of accountability as its definition also takes into consideration the act of not issuing proper cash memos or bills for the services that are effectively rendered and for the good that is sold.
The inculcation and adaptation of the healthy receipt and cash memo practice will effectively help the authority to track the bogus corporation and companies that could be conducting felonies.
In fact, the law has gone even further to include provisions to protect the identity of the public or their personal information. This is needed as the bogus corporations etc. usually share the customer’s intimate details with any other person not in accordance with the prevailing laws.
It is to be noted that the repealed consumer Act of 1986 did not include in its definition the scope of online misleading advertisements. Thus, these have been added to the 2019 consumer Act.
In addition to all the malpractices that are conducted by bogs organizations, the definition now also includes the concept of an unfair contract.
It is to be noted that the ‘Unfair Contract’ is defined under Section 2(46) of the Act. To define this aspect of the law, it effectively refers to any contract that is between a consumer and a manufacturer.
This can also be between the consumer or the trader or the service provider whose terms bring about a significant change in the consumer rights under the Act.
Given the aforementioned provisions, it is necessary that there is an authority that enables, monitors, and regulates the laws and protects the rights of the consumers.
To enable the same, under the Act of 2019, the law effectively had set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA).
The body was established to effectively monitor and regulate matters involving the violation of consumer rights and unfair trade practices aforementioned.
In addition to both, the body will also monitor the misleading or false advertisements by bogus organizations and will help in the enforcement of consumer rights. Here, the members will be effectively appointed by the central government.
Though, there are certain discrepancies that have surfaced since the inception of the fact. These allegations pertain to the undue influence of politicians the consumer rights and the authority of censorship that the government will effectively enjoy.
With growing dissent in the economy in different spheres of life, the dissenters feel, such undue authority might lead to the discrepancy and undue censorship that might lead to curtailment of freedom of speech.
Though, in spite of certain lacunas in the Act, one should strongly note that the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 is a largely positive step toward the reformation and development of consumer laws in the country.
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