Con­sumers can now register com­plaints on ded­i­cated por­tal

Consumer Voice - - In The News -

To en­hance con­sumer aware­ness and strengthen sup­port ser­vices to con­sumers in the coun­try, the min­istry of con­sumer af­fairs, food and public dis­tri­bu­tion has launched two ini­tia­tives of the depart­ment of con­sumer af­fairs: a ded­i­cated por­tal to register Griev­ances against Mis­lead­ing Ad­ver­tise­ments (GAMA) and Gra­hak Su­vidha Ken­dras. The por­tal cov­ers the key sec­tors of food, agri­cul­ture, health, ed­u­ca­tion, real es­tate, trans­port and fi­nan­cial ser­vices. The Gra­hak Su­vidha Ken­dras are meant to be one-stop con­sumer cen­tres and are cur­rently lo­cated at Ahmed­abad, Ben­galuru, Jaipur, Kolkata, Patna and Delhi.

Launch­ing the ini­tia­tives in New Delhi, Union Min­is­ter for Con­sumer Af­fairs, Food and Public Dis­tri­bu­tion Ram Vi­las Paswan as­sured that con­sumers could register their com­plaints on the por­tal with­out any has­sles. Paswan said his min­istry had is­sued di­rec­tions to all state gov­ern­ments to en­sure proper func­tion­ing of con­sumer pro­tec­tion fo­rums in all the dis­tricts and pro­vide ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­ture fa­cil­i­ties. “The min­istry has de­cided to re­lease Rs 1 crore to each Dis­trict Con­sumer Fo­rum,” he said. He also sug­gested that a con­sumer ad­vo­cacy strat­egy be adopted uni­formly across sec­tors and geogra­phies and this must in­clude: con­sumer em­pow­er­ment through aware­ness pro­grammes; en­hanc­ing the qual­ity of in­for­ma­tion pro­vided for prod­ucts and ser­vices; and stan­dard­iz­ing con­tracts to en­sure that they are not un­fair to the con­sumer.

Con­sumer Af­fairs Sec­re­tary Ke­shave De­sir­aju said that com­pre­hen­sive amend­ments to the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act (CPA) as well as Bureau of In­dian Stan­dards Act had been fi­nalised to en­sure qual­ity and safety of goods and ser­vices as well as preven­tion of un­fair trade prac­tices, and to pro­vide for speedy and af­ford­able con­sumer griev­ance re­dress.

The GAMA por­tal can be ac­cessed here: http://gama.gov.in/

ASCI in­tro­duces con­sumer com­plaint mo­bile app

In or­der to make it con­ve­nient for con­sumers to com­plain against mis­lead­ing ad­ver­tise­ments, Advertising Stan­dard Coun­cil of In­dia (ASCI) has launched the coun­try’s first con­sumer com­plaint mo­bile app. Called ASCIon­line, the app will pro­vide con­sumer com­plaint ser­vices on a mo­bile and is cur­rently avail­able on An­droid and iOS. Us­ing the app, a con­sumer can lodge com­plaints by sim­ply pro­vid­ing ad­ver­tise­ment de­tails and the ob­jec­tion. Users can also at­tach files – an im­age or a video – or give the YouTube link of that ad­ver­tise­ment. One can also check the history of all pre­vi­ously reg­is­tered com­plaints with the latest ac­tion sta­tus. The com­plainant can opt for ‘push no­ti­fi­ca­tion’ whereby one can get a real-time up­date on the sta­tus of the com­plaint.

Maggi up­date: Gov­ern­ment to sue Nes­tle on be­half of con­sumers

The con­sumer af­fairs min­istry is pre­par­ing a case against Nes­tle on the Maggi is­sue and it will file the same in the na­tional con­sumer fo­rum. Sources said the min­istry would file a pe­ti­tion on be­half of con­sumers, seek­ing dam­ages from the multi­na­tional for selling an un­safe prod­uct, adopt­ing un­fair trade prac­tices and run­ning mis­lead­ing ad­ver­tise­ments.

Con­sumer af­fairs min­is­ter Ram Vi­las Paswan held a meet­ing with top of­fi­cials to dis­cuss the pe­ti­tion. As per Sec­tion 12 (d) of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act, 1986, the cen­tral or state gov­ern­ment can file a com­plaint in the Na­tional Con­sumer Dis­putes Re­dres­sal Com­mis­sion in its in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­ity or as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of in­ter­ests of con­sumers in gen­eral. How­ever, no case has ever been filed un­der this sec­tion and if the min­istry does go ahead, this will be a first.

The Act also has a pro­vi­sion – Sec­tion 14 (hb) – un­der which the fo­rum can di­rect the op­po­site party ‘to pay a sum as may be de­ter­mined by it, if it is of the opin­ion that loss or in­jury has been suf­fered by a large num­ber of con­sumers who are not iden­ti­fi­able con­ve­niently.’ It also says that the min­i­mum amount payable shall not be less than five per cent of the value of de­fec­tive goods sold to such con­sumers. As per Sec­tion 10 (a) of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Rules, the amount shall be cred­ited to the Con­sumer Wel­fare Fund. The fund can be used for wel­fare of con­sumers and even for re­im­burs­ing le­gal ex­penses in­curred by a com­plainant, or class of com­plaints in a con­sumer dis­pute.

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