Parliamentary panel suggests amendment to consumer protection bill
MDT/PTI 20 December 2012

The panel also recommended providing provision for setting up an authority to check misleading advertisements and inter-ministerial committee to file suo moto complaint in consumer court on behalf of consumers

New Delhi: To protect the interest of consumers, a Parliamentary panel has suggested the government to amend a bill to make it compulsory for shopkeepers to take back goods if found defective and regulate purchases through e-commerce and telemarketing, reports PTI.

In its report on Consumer Protection Amendment Bill, the panel has also recommended providing provision for setting up an authority to check misleading advertisements and inter-ministerial committee to file suo moto complaint in consumer court on behalf of consumers.

The panel, headed by Vilas Muttemwar, also suggested the Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry to make provision for "a law to govern and guard purchasing especially done through e-commerce and telemarketing thereby fixing responsibility on sellers."

"In our country, goods once purchased by consumers in good faith are not taken back by shopkeepers. ...consumers are exploited by shopkeepers and are compelled to buy goods merely on faith. The committee further desire that a 'return policy' should be chalked out which should be mandatory," the report, tabled in Parliament today, said.

The panel observed that some of the shopkeepers even write 'goods once sold are not taken back', hence, leaving no room for consumers for getting goods exchanges or returned even after some defect has been detected.

In the report, the Committee felt that the consumers are exploited by the shopkeepers and are compelled to buy goods merely on faith.

The report highlighted that there is need for up-dation of standards of quality of goods and services provided to consumers in order to conform to global standards. It has also emphasised on creating awareness about consumer rights envisaged in the proposed Act.

The panel has asked the government to fill up vacant posts in consumer courts without delay besides suggesting the Central government to share at least 30% to the salary of president, members and staff of consumer court since states lack resources.

It has recommended strengthening of monitoring mechanism for disposal of consumer related cases. "A clause to this effect may timely disposal of cases mandatory should be included in this bill itself."

The panel hoped that the passage of the amendment bill would overcome the shortcomings like delay in disposal of cases lack of infrastructure among others crept in due course in the functioning of the Act, thereby ensuring protection of the consumer’s rights.

The Consumer Protection Act 1986 has been amended thrice so far.

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