The main features of The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 are as follows:-
1. District forum is renamed as District Commission
2. The Opposite Party needs to deposit 50% of the amount ordered by District Commission before filing appeal before State Commission, earlier the ceiling was of maximum of Rs. 25,000/-, which has been removed.
3. The limitation period for filing of appeal to State Commission is increased from 30 days to 45 days, while retaining power to condone the delay.
4. State Commission shall have a minimum of 1 President and 4 Members
5. The original pecuniary jurisdiction of District Commission shall be uptil Rs. 1 Crore, State Commission from 1 Cr – 10 Cr. And NCDRC to be more than Rs. 10 crore
6. Now complainant can also institute the complaint within the territorial jurisdiction of the Commission where the complainant resides or personally works for gain besides what was provided earlier
7. Section 49(2) and 59(2) of the new act gives power to the State Commission and NCDRC respectively to declare any terms of contract, which is unfair to any consumer, to be null and void.
8. A second appeal to NCDRC has been provided U/s 51(3) if there is a substantial question of law involved in the matter
9. Power of revision can still be exercised by NCDRC U/s 58(1)(b) and by State commission under 47(1)(b) of the Act.
10. Power of review has been conferred to District Commission, State Commission and NCDRC U/s 40, 50 and 60 of the Act respectively
11. NCDRC can hear appeals against the order of Central Authority by virtue of Section 58 of the Act
12. Period of limitation in filing of complaint remains 2 years with a provision for condonation of delay power U/s 69 of the Act
13. Section 70 provides for administrative control of State Commission over District Commission and that of NCDRC over State Commission. It inter alia provides for investigation into any allegations against the President and members of a State Commission / District Commission and submitting inquiry report to the State Government concerned along with copy endorsed to the Central Government for necessary action
14. Section 71 confers power of execution as provided Under Order XXI, The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 with such limitation as provided in the section
15. Mediation is given statutory status by way of introduction of Section 74 in the new Act
16. A product liability action may be brought by a complainant against a product manufacturer or a product service provider or a product seller, as the case may be, for any harm caused to him on account of a defective product.
17. Chapter III of the Act provides for creation of Central Authority to regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and consumers and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class
18. The Central Authority shall have an Investigation Wing headed by a Director General for the purpose of conducting inquiry or investigation under this Act as may be directed by the Central Authority
19. The Act of 2019 has come into effect w.e.f. 9.8.19 and old Act of 1986 stands repealed, subject to section 1(3) of the New Act.
20. Rules regarding appointment, conditions of service etc. of the Members are to be notified soon.
*The list is not exhaustive and the above is just a bird’s eye view only of the new Act. For more / exact details kindly refer to the notification dated 9.8.19 notifying the Act.