Now, probe agency to investigate consumer frauds
New Delhi: In a significant move aimed at protecting the interests of consumers, the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to set up a special investigation agency to probe companies hoodwinking consumers. This will be along the lines of organisations investigating cyber and economic crimes.
According to official sources, the investigating agency would be entrusted with the power to penalise errant companies for cheating consumers. "The agency will work under the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) which is going to be formed soon. The agency would be headed by a Director General (DG) level official," the sources said.
"The agency would investigate cases of consumer goods, unexpected price fluctuations and price crash of any product, including onions, tomatoes, pulses, etc. Besides, the agency would also probe the cases of cheating and cartelisation," the sources said.
"It would be an expert agency of consumer affairs, and upon receiving the complaint; the investigating authority would register the cases," the sources said, adding that consumers wouldn't have to move court and run from pillar to post to gather evidence for proving the fraud committed by big players.
Commenting on the move, former Consumer Affairs Secretary Labanyendu Mansingh said, "The major benefit of the investigation agency would be that consumers get relief within a stipulated time and they wouldn't have to wait for years to get the justice as is the case with consumer courts."
However, if there is a need move court, the investigation agency's probe report would be used by consumers as a valid evidence to seek justice, the official said, adding that the establishment of investigating agency would start soon after the formation of Central Consumer Protection Authority.
Hailing the initiative, Mansingh said, "Since a consumer court is a reactive forum, the victims have to file a case, and then the process of complaint redressal would start, whereas the investigating agency is a proactive forum. The agency would itself take the cognisance of complaints and probe it."
Notably, the Cabinet has approved the new Consumer Protection Bill, and the bill is likely to be introduced in the current Winter Session of the Parliament.