Consumer Protection Act 2019: Enhancing Consumer Rights

The 2019 Consumer Protection Act brings about fundamental changes to the existing 1986 legislation. But it also envisages a Central Consumer Protection Authority and vests too much power and control in this authority without proposing adequate administrative safeguards.

Mid-August, the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (2019 Act) received Presidential assent and came into effect. Notably, the 2019 Act, repeals the previous consumer protection legislation which had been in effect since 1986 (1986 Act). This prior legislation had been amended from time-to-time to bring it in accordance with changes brought about by economic liberalisation, globalisation of markets and digitalisation of products and services. However, its practical implementation was far from fulfilling its desired objective of being a socio-economic legislation which sought “to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers.” While using the same phrase in its preamble, the 2019 Act, has substantially enhanced the scope of protection afforded to consumers, by bringing within its purview advertising claims, endorsements and product liability, all of which play a fundamental role in altering consumer behavior and retail trends in the 21st century.

New Additions

The definition of “consumer” under the 2019 Act includes those who make purchases online. Endorsement of goods and services, normally done by celebrities, are also covered within the ambit of the 2019 Act. In fact, an additional onus has been placed on endorsers, apart from manufacturers and service providers, to prevent false or misleading advertisements. In contrast to the 1986 Act, the definition of “goods” has been amended to include “food” as defined in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. This would also bring the meteorically rising number of food delivery platforms within the fold of the 2019 Act.

Interestingly, “telecom” has been added to the definition of “services” to bring telecom service providers within the purview of the 2019 Act. But surprisingly, such inclusion has not been worded as “telecommunication service” defined under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, which would have included internet, cellular and data services.

A significant addition to the 2019 Act is the introduction of “product liability” whereby manufacturers and sellers of products or services have been made responsible to compensate for any harm caused to a consumer by defective products, manufactured or sold, or for deficiency in services. Another newly introduced concept is that of “unfair contracts” aimed to protect consumers from unilaterally skewed and unreasonable contracts which lean in favour of manufacturers or service providers.

The definition of “unfair trade practices” has been enlarged to include electronic advertising which is misleading, as well as refusing to take back or withdraw defective goods, or to withdraw or discontinue deficient services, and to refund the consideration within the period stipulated or in the absence of such stipulation, within a period of thirty days. It is now also an offence if any personal information, given in confidence and gathered in the course of a transaction, gets disclosed.

All these changes signify an attempt to create more transparency in the marketplace, through legislative protection, with a view to ensure that consumer interests are above all else.

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Environment reporters facing harassment and murder, study finds

Tally of deaths makes it one of most dangerous fields for journalists after war reporting

Thirteen journalists who were investigating damage to the environment have been killed in recent years and many more are suffering violence, harassment, intimidation and lawsuits, according to a study.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which produced the tally, is investigating a further 16 deaths over the last decade. It says the number of murders may be as high as 29, making this field of journalism one of the most dangerous after war reporting.

On every continent reporters have been attacked for investigating concerns about abuses related to the impact of corporate and political interests scrambling to extract wealth from the earth’s remaining natural resources.

These resources end up in all manner of products – from mobile phones to pots and pans – with consumers largely unaware of the stories behind them.

The study was produced for Green Blood, a reporting project whose aim is to continue the reporting of local environmental journalists who have been forced to abandon their work.

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 Goldmining in Tanzania. Photograph: Handout Acacia Mining plc

Led by Forbidden Stories, a group of 15 media partners, including the Guardian, El País and Le Monde, have come together to shine an international light on the way these activities affect local environments and communities.

“Environmental issues involve some of the greatest abuses of power in the world and some of the greatest of concentrations of power in the world,” said Bruce Shapiro, the director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

“I’m hard put to think of a category of investigative reporters who are routinely dealing with more dangerous actors. Investigative reporting on the environment can be as dangerous a beat as reporting on narco smuggling.”

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INCOME TAX ON CELL TOWER RENT WHICH IS ILLEGAL UNDER BYE LAW 169

Many cooperative societies have rented a portion of their respective terrace for cell tower installation.  In the income tax such earning should be shown as income from house and not from other source of income.  in income return one should show the cell tower space rent as “income from house property” and can get 30% set off in computation of taxable income.  In case cell tower rent is shown as “Income from other sources” or “income from business” the 30% set off will not be allowed.  Since terrace is a portion of “house”, such income from House property is justified.
However, Bye Law 169 prohibits renting of common areas, therefore, such earning are illegal earning.  Therefore, an offence.
Audit of many societies are in progress.  Take proper care for computation of taxable income.
Dr P K Banerjee  drpkbanerjee@hotmail.com
982 097 4449 / 8850 771 660

Bank transfers ₹48k to wrong account, held guilty for ‘careless’ transaction

Holding Canara Bank guilty of carrying out a careless real-time gross settlement (RTGS) transfer through which Rs. 48,000 was sent to the wrong account, the state consumer commission recently said it cannot solely depend on the account number and transfer amounts without cross-checking names of the beneficiary, branch and city where the branch is.

Pradeep Tripathi, from Parel, found that the money he wanted transferred to the account of a business supplier in Chandigarh was sent to the account of an unknown person in Hyderabad. The bank was recently ordered to refund the amount along with a compensation of around Rs32,000.

A district forum had ruled in Tripathi’s favour in June 2018. But the bank moved an appeal before Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

The commission upheld the district forum order. “The forum rightly held that the correct account number was written by the complainant (Tripathi) on the RTGS transfer slip but opponent (Canara Bank) did not verify before making the transfer and had done it carelessly, and transferred the amount to a different account. The forum correctly held that the complainant was not responsible for the mistake by the bank and it was guilty and responsible for the deficiency in service,” the state commission said.

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Tripathi told the commission that after he realised his money was wrongly transferred, he informed the bank, and told it to credit the amount back in his account, but it was not done. Tripathi said he moved the district forum in 2015 after his efforts for a favourable solution from the banking ombudsman failed.

The bank claimed Tripathi provided the wrong account number, which was clear from the RTGS slip. But the state commission said it had gone through the main copy of the slip and found that the number ‘6’ in the account number seemed to have been corrected as ‘8’ by overwriting. It observed that there was no initial or authentication for the correction.


“In normal case, the bank never accepts such overwriting without any initial or authentication. Therefore, the overwriting or correction is done subsequently, and not by the complainant,” the commission said.

It said this was obvious from the acknowledgement slip given to Tripathi with the bank stamp and seal, which showed the wrong account number without any correction or overwriting.

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