4. Setting up of Mediation Centres in Consumer Courts
A new chapter has been added to the Bill relating to setting up the mechanism for undertaking mediation in consumer disputes. The philosophy is that parties to a dispute should discuss the dispute with an empanelled mediator to find a mutually acceptable solution instead of getting into a longdrawn litigation. Mediation centres will be set up at the central, state and district levels as prescribed by the respective state governments. This will enable settlement of disputes by a mediator except in cases of grave threats to life and physical or mental injuries.
5. Product Liability
A new chapter has been introduced to enforce product liability against manufacturers and even make them recall the product from the entire market.
In order to enforce product liability, a claimant must establish four kinds of defects in the product, the injury caused from it, and that it belonged to the manufacturer. The claimant must also establish that the manufacturer had knowledge of such a defect. It was argued before the Standing Committee that the conditions to establish a product liability claim were unreasonable. The Parliamentary Standing Committee observed that this put an undue burden on the consumer, since it would not be possible to claim liability if any one of the conditions were not met. It recommended that the provision be redrafted such that the consumer had to prove any one of the conditions instead of all six of them. The Committee also noted that it was not clear if deficiency in services was covered under the Bill. It recommended that the Bill also specify conditions for establishing deficiency in services.