Consumer Protection Act, 2019 comes into force from today; manufacturers may go to jail for misleading ads

Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) can take actions such as enforcing recall, refund, and return of products.

Customers will now get more power in case of disputes related to the quality of goods and services being provided to them by companies as the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has come into force from today. The new Act that replaced more than three-decades-old Act was signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind in August last year. Under the new Consumer Protection Act 2019, the process of administration and settlement of consumer disputes have been revamped and there are strict penalties, including jail term for adulteration and misleading advertisements by companies. 

With the provision of setting up of a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers, the CCPA would make interventions to prevent consumers interests from unfair trade practices. On top of that, the agency can also take actions such as enforcing recall, refund, and return of products. With an aim to provide a simplified dispute resolution process to the customers, the new Act has provision for mediation and e-filing of cases. The consumers can file complaints from anywhere, without the need to hire lawyer to represent their cases. 

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The cases of misleading advertisements are not new in the Indian landscape, however, now the manufacturers may have to go to jail or pay a heavy fine under the new guidelines. The authority will have the power to impose a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement. Though there is no provision for jail for celebrities, they could be banned for endorsing products if it is found to be misleading.

Meanwhile, in the case where the consumer is injured, the manufacturer, seller, or distributor can be fined up to Rs 5 lakh and jailed for up to seven years. If cases related to consumer’s death, the authority can impose a minimum fine of Rs 10 lakh and seven years in jail which may be extended to life imprisonment. The rules will be applicable to e-commerce companies too. 

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