Amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, a step in the right direction
Under the proposed amendments, non compliance with the order of the consumer forums could attract a penalty. It also has a provision facilitating online filing of complaints
In order to facilitate quick disposal of consumer cases, the government has proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Under the proposed amendments, non compliance with the order of the consumer forums could attract a penalty. It also has a provision facilitating online filing of complaints.
The ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, on 16th December had introduced Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2011, in Lok Sabha.
The proposed amendments include a provision where the order of the consumer courts—district, state and national will be enforced as a decree of a civil court.
Accordingly, to ensure compliance of the orders of consumer courts, it has a proposed an amendment to make a provision where a person not complying with the order of district forum, state commission and national commission could be fined with Rs500 or 1.5% of the penalty amount. The ministry says, “This modification is considered essential in view of the experiences gained during implementation of the amended Act and is intended to deter wilful offenders and also to ensure speedy and proper execution of the orders of the consumer forums, so that justice to the aggrieved consumers is not frustrated.”
The amendments also include a provision where consumer can register a complaint online and pay the fees using the online platform to make the consumer move towards e-governance and time-bound redressal.
The proposed amendments also call for maintaining periodical reports of pending cases of consumer courts to monitor the functions of the forums. It has a provision to increase the minimum age for appointment as a member to improve the quality of persons applying for these posts. In the case of state commissions, it would be 45 years from 35 years and in case of national commission, it would be increased from 35 to 55 years. It has also proposed to increase the period of experience for appointment as member of a state commission from 10 years to 20 years, and 10 to 30 years in case of National Commission.
The proposed amendments seek to give additional powers to the district forum. It says that the state commission should allow the district forum to function in places other than its headquarters. To deal with the non-functionality of district forums due to vacancy of president/members, neighbouring districts forum could be clubbed and additional charge to president/members can be given to hear cases in more than one district forum.
It also gives powers to the national and state commission to direct any expert of organization to assist it in the in the cases of large consumer interest.
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