CON­SUMERS’ RIGHT PRO­TEC­TION

Airports India - - UTTARAKHAND GOVERNMENT -

The Min­istry of Con­sumer Af­fairs, Food and Pub­lic Dis­tri­bu­tion un­der the lead­er­ship of Union Min­is­ter Ramvi­las Paswan has cre­ated sev­eral mile­stones in the di­rec­tion of pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of con­sumers. The Min­istry of Con­sumer Af­fairs launched sev­eral aware­ness cam­paigns to em­power con­sumers about their rights through Jago Gra­hak Jago ini­tia­tive that helped in rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the con­sumer move­ment in the coun­try.

The Jago Gra­hak Jago cam­paign was launched ex­ten­sively by the De­part­ment of Con­sumer Af­fairs (DCA) and is still run­ning and has been a mar­quee con­sumer aware­ness cam­paign.

Since its in­cep­tion in 1997, the de­part­ment has come a long way and has ben­e­fited con­sumers in sev­eral ways. The De­part­ment has been tak­ing many steps to pro­mote and pro­tect con­sumer rights, as pro­vided un­der the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act, 1986.

A new Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Bill, 2018 has been in­tro­duced in the Lok Sabha on Jan­uary 5, 2018. In the new Bill, the rights of con­sumers are pro­posed to be pro­tected with more strin­gent rules and reg­u­la­tions.

The salient fea­tures of the bill in­clude es­tab­lish­ment of an ex­ec­u­tive agency to be known as the Cen­tral Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Author­ity (CCPA) to pro­mote, pro­tect and en­force the rights of the con­sumers and will be em­pow­ered to in­ves­ti­gate, re­call, re­fund and im­pose penal­ties; pro­vi­sion for prod­uct li­a­bil­ity ac­tion in cases of per­sonal in­jury, death, or prop­erty dam­age caused by or re­sult­ing from any prod­uct; pro­vi­sion for me­di­a­tion as an al­ter­nate dis­pute res­o­lu­tion (ADR) mak­ing the process of dis­pute ad­ju­di­ca­tion sim­pler and quicker and sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of the process of ad­ju­di­ca­tion by the con­sumer fo­rums.

An­other ma­jor step that has been taken in the in­ter­est of con­sumers is the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Min­istry of Con­sumer Af­fairs and Google In­dia to launch a na­tion­wide ‘Dig­i­tally Safe Con­sumer’ cam­paign. The drive is aimed at rais­ing aware­ness about on­line safety.

To keep con­sumers safe from mis­lead­ing ad­ver­tise­ments, the de­part­ment has launched a por­tal Griev­ance Against Mis­lead­ing Ad­ver­tise­ments (GAMA) to han­dle com­plaints re­lat­ing to mis­lead­ing ad­ver­tise­ment. As many as 6,230 com­plaints re­ceived through GAMA por­tal dur­ing the pe­riod April, 2015 to

Jan­uary, 2018. Out of the to­tal com­plaints of mis­lead­ing ad­ver­tise­ments, 1,262 com­plaints have been re­jected, while 3,146 com­plaints have been re­solved and 1,148 com­plaints have been re­ferred to the reg­u­la­tors con­cerned for tak­ing fur­ther ac­tion.

The ma­jor achieve­ments of the Min­istry dur­ing the year 2017 in­clude strength­en­ing of Price Mon­i­tor­ing Cell (PMC), util­i­sa­tion of Price Sta­bi­liza­tion Fund (PSF) to main­tain buf­fer stock, pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of con­sumers after im­ple­men­ta­tion of Goods & Ser­vices Tax (GST) by ex­tend­ing the ben­e­fits of price re­vi­sion to con­sumers.

Paswan fur­ther said that due to De­pot On­line pro­gramme, there has been an in­crease in work ca­pac­ity and loss of stolen and grain losses on de­pot lev­els of the Food Cor­po­ra­tion of In­dia.

Speak­ing about the De­part­ment of Con­sumer Af­fairs, Paswan said that the big­gest achieve­ment of the gov­ern­ment is that the prices of es­sen­tial items have been con­trolled. “The gov­ern­ment had promised the peo­ple to con­trol in­fla­tion, which has been done by this gov­ern­ment in the last three years. The gov­ern­ment has so far avail­able buf­fer stock of pulses, which is now be­ing dis­trib­uted among var­i­ous state gov­ern­ment and cen­tral gov­ern­ment pro­grammes,” he said.

ACHIEVE­MENTS OF THE DE­PART­MENT OF CON­SUMER AF­FAIRS IN 2017

BUF­FER STOCK:

The gov­ern­ment has ap­proved cre­ation of a buf­fer stock of up to 20 lakhs tonnes of pulses un­der Price Sta­bi­liza­tion Fund (PSF) scheme. A to­tal 12.54 lakh MT of pulses are avail­able in the buf­fer after dis­posal of 7.96 lakh MT from 20.50 lakh tonnes, of which 3.79 lakh tonnes was im­ported and 16.71 lakh tonnes was pro­cured do­mes­ti­cally.

Of 16.71 lakh tonnes pro­cured do­mes­ti­cally, 15.52 lakh tonnes was pro­cured from KMS 2016-17 and RMS 2017-18 ben­e­fit­ing around 849,128 farm­ers. As the sud­den rise in prices of onions has al­ways drew the at­ten­tion of the De­part­ment, the gov­ern­ment pro­moted pro­cure­ment and im­port of onions through NAFED, SFAC and MMTC for sta­bi­liz­ing prices.

Pulses from the buf­fer are be­ing utilised for sup­ply to states for dis­tri­bu­tion through their schemes – Min­istries/ De­part­ments of Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment hav­ing schemes with a nu­tri­tion com­po­nent as well as those pro­vid­ing hos­pi­tal­ity ser­vices ei­ther di­rectly or through pri­vate agen­cies. In ad­di­tion, pulses are also be­ing dis­posed through auc­tion in mar­ket. Th­ese in­ter­ven­tions, in­ter-alia, has en­sured that prices of pulses re­main at rea­son­able level dur­ing the year. Strength­en­ing of Price Mon­i­tor­ing Cell The Price Mon­i­tor­ing Cell is be­ing strength­ened at state level also by way of grants re­leased to the State Gov­ern­ment. Prices are sta­bilised by mak­ing ap­pro­pri­ate pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tion and mar­ket intervention.

LE­GAL METROLOGY:

Amend­ment made in the Le­gal Metrology (Pack­aged Commodities) Rules, 2011 to safe­guard the in­ter­est of con­sumers and ease of do­ing busi­ness. Goods dis­played by the seller on e-com­merce plat­form shall con­tain dec­la­ra­tions re­quired un­der the Rules.

Spe­cific men­tion is made in the rules that no per­son shall de­clare dif­fer­ent MRPS (dual MRP) on an iden­ti­cal pre-pack­aged com­mod­ity. Size of let­ters and nu­mer­als for mak­ing dec­la­ra­tion is in­creased, so that con­sumer can eas­ily read the same. The net quan­tity check­ing is made more sci­en­tific.

Bar Code/ QR Cod­ing is al­lowed on vol­un­tar­ily ba­sis. Pro­vi­sions re­gard­ing dec­la­ra­tions on Food Prod­ucts have been har­mo­nized with reg­u­la­tion un­der the Food Safety & Stan­dards Act. Med­i­cal de­vices which are de­clared as drugs, are brought into the purview of dec­la­ra­tions to be made un­der the rules.

POST GST IM­PLE­MEN­TA­TION:

On ac­count of im­ple­men­ta­tion of GST w.e.f. July 1, 2017, there may be in­stances where the re­tail sale price of a pre-pack­aged com­mod­ity is re­quired to be changed. In this con­text, Min­is­ter of Con­sumer Af­fairs, Food & Pub­lic Dis­tri­bu­tion Union Min­is­ter Ramvila Paswan, had al­lowed the man­u­fac­tur­ers or pack­ers or im­porters of pre-pack­aged commodities to de­clare the re­vised re­tail sale price (MRP) in ad­di­tion to the ex­ist­ing re­tail sale price (MRP), for three months w.e.f. July 1, 2017 to Septem­ber 30, 2017.

Dec­la­ra­tion of the changed re­tail sale price (MRP) was al­lowed to be made by way of stamp­ing or putting sticker or on­line print­ing, as the case may be, after tak­ing into ac­count the in­put tax credit. Use of un­ex­hausted pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial/ wrap­per had also been al­lowed upto Septem­ber 30, 2017 after mak­ing the nec­es­sary cor­rec­tions.

Con­sid­er­ing the re­quests re­ceived to ex­tend the per­mis­sion for some more time, dis­play on the re­vised MRP due to im­ple­men­ta­tion of GST by way of stamp­ing or putting sticker or on­line has been ex­tended up to March 31, 2018.

Fur­ther, the gov­ern­ment has re­duced the rates of GST on cer­tain spec­i­fied items, per­mis­sion has been granted un­der sub­rule (3) of rule 6 of the Le­gal Metrology (Pack­aged Commodities) Rules, 2011, up to March 31, 2018 to af­fix an ad­di­tional sticker or stamp­ing or on­line print­ing for declar­ing the re­duced MRP on the prepack­aged com­mod­ity. In this case also, the ear­lier La­belling/ Sticker of MRP will con­tinue to be vis­i­ble.

ADVISORIES IS­SUED:

For the ease of do­ing busi­ness, an ad­vi­sory was is­sued to all stake­hold­ers that loose ready­made gar­ments are not cov­ered un­der the Le­gal Metrology (Pack­aged Commodities) Rules, 2011.

In the in­ter­est of con­sumers, ad­vi­sory was is­sued to the con­trollers of Le­gal Metrology of all states/uts to en­force pro­vi­sions re­lated to over­charg­ing and dual MRP. The Ma­ha­rash­tra gov­ern­ment is­sued no­tices for com­pli­ance of pro­vi­sions of rules re­lated to over­charg­ing to Vankhade Sta­dium, Mum­bai, after which they asked their ven­dors to com­ply with the pro­vi­sions of the no­ti­fied rules.

To safe­guard the in­ter­est of con­sumers, ad­vi­sory has been is­sued to all state gov­ern­ments to en­sure all dec­la­ra­tions, in­clud­ing MRP on all med­i­cal de­vices.

Ad­vi­sory in the in­ter­est of con­sumers was also is­sued to all state gov­ern­ments to en­sure the cor­rect quan­tity of petrol/ diesel and LPG cylin­ders.

BUREAU OF IN­DIAN STAN­DARDS (BIS) ACT 2016:

A new Bureau of In­dian stan­dards (BIS) Act 2016 which was no­ti­fied on March 22, 2016, has been brought into force with ef­fect from

Oc­to­ber 12, 2017. The Act es­tab­lishes the Bureau of In­dian Stan­dards (BIS) as the Na­tional Stan­dards Body of In­dia.

It has en­abling pro­vi­sions for the gov­ern­ment to bring un­der com­pul­sory cer­ti­fi­ca­tion regime any goods or ar­ti­cle of any sched­uled in­dus­try, process, sys­tem or ser­vice which it con­sid­ers nec­es­sary in the pub­lic in­ter­est or for the pro­tec­tion of hu­man, an­i­mal or plant health, safety of the en­vi­ron­ment, or pre­ven­tion of un­fair trade prac­tices, or na­tional se­cu­rity.

En­abling pro­vi­sions have also been made for mak­ing hall­mark­ing of the pre­cious metal ar­ti­cles manda­tory. The new Act also al­lows mul­ti­ple types of sim­pli­fied con­form­ity as­sess­ment schemes, in­clud­ing self-dec­la­ra­tion of con­form­ity against a stan­dard which will give sim­pli­fied op­tions to man­u­fac­tur­ers to ad­here to the stan­dards and get cer­tifi­cate of con­form­ity.

The Act en­ables the Cen­tral gov­ern­ment to ap­point any author­ity/ agency, in ad­di­tion to the BIS, to ver­ify the con­form­ity of prod­ucts and ser­vices to a stan­dard and is­sue cer­tifi­cate of con­form­ity. Fur­ther, there is pro­vi­sion for re­pair or re­call, in­clud­ing prod­uct li­a­bil­ity of the prod­ucts bear­ing stan­dard mark but not con­form­ing to the rel­e­vant In­dian stan­dard.

The new Act will fur­ther help in ease of do­ing busi­ness in the coun­try, give fil­lip to Make in In­dia cam­paign and en­sure avail­abil­ity of qual­ity prod­ucts and ser­vices to the con­sumers. Bureau of In­dian Stan­dards Rules, 2017 were also no­ti­fied on Oc­to­ber 13, 2017.

An in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on con­sumer pro­tec­tion was held on Oc­to­ber 26-27, 2017 in New Delhi in as­so­ci­a­tion

with UNCTAD hav­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion from coun­tries in the East, South and South-east Asia with the theme “Em­pow­er­ing Con­sumers in New Mar­kets”. At the con­fer­ence, around 1,800 del­e­gates, in­clud­ing around 60 for­eign del­e­gates, par­tic­i­pated in the con­fer­ence.

The key is­sues dis­cussed dur­ing con­fer­ence were United Na­tions guide­lines for con­sumer pro­tec­tion and their im­ple­men­ta­tion; stake­holder par­tic­i­pa­tion in con­sumer pro­tec­tion; pro­tec­tion of on­line con­sumers; fos­ter­ing con­sumer in­clu­sion in fi­nan­cial ser­vices; con­sumer ed­u­ca­tion and em­pow­er­ment; and spe­cial chal­lenges in pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble and eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged con­sumers.

The con­fer­ence in­ter-alia drew con­clu­sions such as - com­pre­hen­sive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the United Na­tions guide­lines for con­sumer pro­tec­tion as a pri­or­ity for gov­ern­ments and stake­hold­ers in en­sur­ing more ef­fec­tive and bet­ter co­or­di­nated pro­tec­tion ef­forts in all coun­tries and across all ar­eas of com­merce; pro­tec­tion of con­sumers’ rights in the dig­i­tal con­text as a key for a sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive devel­op­ment of e-com­merce, which also needs to ad­dress cross-bor­der cooperation and en­force­ment etc.

Con­sumer Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ram Vi­las Paswan, along with MOS CR Chaud­hary, at an ex­hi­bi­tion in New Delhi

Ram Vi­las Paswan, along with MOS CR Chaud­hary, at World Stan­dards Day event in New Delhi

Con­sumer Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ram Vi­las Paswan, along with MOS MOS CR Chaud­hary, at the launch of Swach­hta Pakhwada in New Delhi

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