How It Has Worked

Consumer Voice - - The New Consumer Protection Law -

The 1986 law proved to be a land­mark for con­sumer pro­tec­tion in In­dia as it set up con­sumer courts in each dis­trict of the coun­try along with a state con­sumer court in each state and a na­tional con­sumer court in Delhi. These courts have done re­mark­able work over the past three decades. They have han­dled about 45.66 lakh cases since in­cep­tion, bulk of which were at the dis­trict level. Of these, 41.66 lakh cases have been dis­posed of, which is a dis­posal rate of nearly 91 per cent. About four lakh cases re­main pend­ing at the na­tional level. De­spite the ef­fi­cient dis­posal of cases, if a case is con­tested, it may take about three to five years at the dis­trict level, par­tic­u­larly in metro re­gions, with again about three to five years at ap­peals in state and na­tional lev­els. A hotly con­tested case could drag on for 10 to 15 years due to first and sec­ond ap­peals. The lit­i­ga­tion can be long-drawn and ex­pen­sive and can wear out any in­di­vid­ual fight­ing a com­pany.

There are five high­lights in the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Bill 2015 which are be­ing de­lib­er­ated upon by the govern­ment, be­fore its re­vised form is re-in­tro­duced in Par­lia­ment’s forth­com­ing win­ter ses­sion. These five high­lights are go­ing to make the law much stronger, ma­ture and so­phis­ti­cated as com­pared to the Bill passed in 1986. One can say that much wa­ter has flown down the Ya­muna since 1986, when this law was first en­acted. The 2015 ver­sion will re­place the old Act of 1986 lock, stock and bar­rel while re­tain­ing all essen­tial features but mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant changes and ad­di­tions to make it stronger.

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