The Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 which was introduced in January has been passed by the Lok Sabha today – 20th December 2018. The Bill mandates harsh penalty and imprisonment for misleading advertisements and even for food adulteration. This Bill would now go into Rajya Sabha for discussion. Once it is passed, it would become law, replacing the three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The Bill enforces consumer rights and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints regarding deficiencies in goods and services. It would also put an end to misleading and false claims by manufacturers and service providers. It aims to set up Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions as quasi-judicial bodies to adjudicate disputes.
The Bill also provides for the setting up of a Central Consumer Protection Authority to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights as a class. Consumer Protection Councils would also be set up at the district, state and national level as advisory bodies. The Bill introduces provisions for product liability and unfair contracts, which were not a part of the 1986 Act.
However, certain provisions including the punitive measures and ban on celebrities for endorsing misleading advertisements has been criticised widely. It has sparked a debate and has been labelled as “unjustified” by the experts, stating that celebrities cannot be held liable for merely appearing or lending their faces/voices.