Bottlenecks make Consumer Protection Bill's fate uncertain
In a major setback to the government, the proposed 'toughest' Consumer Protection Bill 2015 may not be tabled in the upcoming monsoon session as the ministry concerned had yet not made 82 amendments, recommended by parliamentary standing committee in the proposed bill.
According to senior officials in the Consumer Affairs Ministry, the parliamentary panel's recommendation to make 82 changes in the final draft of the Bill was like drafting a new Act. "Given the time we have in hand, it cannot be completed till the next month. There are other processes involved in it as we have to anticipate the consequences of every change in the bill," the official said, adding that the bill would again be tabled in the Cabinet and after getting clearance from the apex authority of the government, it would be introduced in the parliament.
Earlier, the government was hopeful that the bill would be passed in the budget session of parliament, but it didn't happen. Notably, a similar bill was also drafted in the year 2006 by the UPA government, which was not introduced in the parliament. Experts have also raised doubts over the fate of new Consumer Protection Rights Bill 2015, which has been drafted to replace the erstwhile Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Recently, Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan had said that the government has made sweeping changes in the bill as it now provides huge penalties on celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements and ban such offenders for up to three years.
The proposed bill also seeks to create a Consumer Protection Authority to fast-track grievance redressal of consumers on the lines of US and European countries. The Bill has a provision for product liability and penalties in certain cases of food poisoning.
"The new Bill has also the provision of huge penalty on befooling consumers even through misleading advertisements. Huge penalties have been imposed on offenders. For the first offence, the offender would face two years of rigorous imprisonment and huge penalty," an official said.