The Union government is preparing to bring a more stringent consumer protection law that has provisions to safeguard consumers’ interests against misleading advertisements among other things, Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday.
The current Consumer Protection Act was enforced in 1986, and over the years with changing technology, market landscape and consumer aspirations the law has lost its effectiveness.
The Narendra Modi government had introduced a new consumer protection Bill in the Lok Sabha in August 2015 but it was referred to a Standing Committee after discussion.
Responding to the issue of misleading advertisements and adulteration in edibles raised by the members in the Rajya Sabha, Paswan told the House that the government has reworked the Bill keeping in mind “all the suggestions and reports of the Standing Committee” and the Cabinet has also cleared the new draft last week.
“Now the new Bill has been cleared by the Cabinet and we will introduce it very soon in the Lok Sabha, and subsequently in the Rajya Sabha. We have put in great effort in preparing this Bill, it will address issues of misleading advertisements such as those claiming to regrow hair or lose weight etc in these many days et al, among other things,” Paswan said.
Earlier, Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu related a personal experience of how he was once duped by an unscrupulous advertiser that sold medicine to lose weight. On complaint to the Ministry, it was found that the advertiser was based in the US.
The Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 was found to have many lacunae such as it empowered the central government to supervise the functioning of, and issue binding directions to the district, state and national consumer redressal commissions. This may affect the independence of these quasi-judicial bodies, many felt.
Also, in order to claim product liability, a claimant was required to establish four kinds of defects in the product, the injury caused from it, and that it belonged to the manufacturer. The claimant must also establish that the manufacturer had knowledge of such a defect.