PIB – August 13 , 2019


GS- 2 Paper

Topic covered- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Consumer Protection Act, 2019

Context

The Consumer Protection Act 2019 will be more holistic and stringent once the rules are framed to protect the interest of the Consumer: Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

About

  • The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 will replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
  • It aims to address consumer vulnerabilities to new forms of unfair trade and unethical business practices in the fast-changing new-age economy.

Key features of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019

  • Definition of consumer- according to act, a consumer is defined as a person who buys any good or avails a service for a consideration.
  • It does not include a person who obtains a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purpose.
  • It covers transactions through all modes including offline, and online through electronic means, teleshopping, multi-level marketing or direct selling.
  • Rights of consumers- Six consumer rights have been defined in the Act.
  • It includes the right to-
  1. be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
  2. be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services;
  3. be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices;
  4. seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices.
  • Central Consumer Protection Authority– The central government will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.
  • It will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements.
  • Penalties for misleading advertisement- The CCPA may impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.
  • In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to five years.
  • Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission– Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) will be set up at the district, state, and national levels.
  • Product liability- Product liability means the liability of a product manufacturer, service provider or seller to compensate a consumer for any harm or injury caused by a defective good or deficient service.
  • To claim compensation, a consumer has to prove any one of the conditions for defect or deficiency, as given in the Act.

Central Consumer Protection Authority

  • Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has been constituted under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • It aims to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers and it is empowered to investigate, recall faulty/unsafe goods and services, refund and impose penalties,
  • The CCPA will have an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct inquiry or investigation into such violations.

 Functions of CCPA

  • CCPA will carry out the following functions, including-
  1. inquiring into violations of consumer rights, investigating and launching prosecution at the appropriate forum;
  2. passing orders to recall goods or withdraw services that are hazardous, reimbursement of the price paid, and discontinuation of the unfair trade practices, as defined in the Act;
  3. issuing directions to the concerned trader/ manufacturer/ endorser/ advertiser/ publisher to either discontinue a false or misleading advertisement, or modify it;
  4. imposing penalties, and;
  5. Issuing safety notices to consumers against unsafe goods and services.
  • CCPA can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from endorsing that particular product or service for a period of up to one year.
  • For every subsequent offence, the period of prohibition may extend to three years. However, there are certain exceptions when an endorser will not be held liable for such a penalty.

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

  • The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), India is a quasi-judicial commission in India which was set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
  • Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) will be set up at the district, state, and national levels.

Functions

  • A consumer can file a complaint with CDRCs in relation to-
  1. unfair or restrictive trade practices;
  2. defective goods or services;
  3. overcharging or deceptive charging;
  4. The offering of goods or services for sale which may be hazardous to life and safety.
  • Complaints against an unfair contract can be filed with only the State and National Appeals from a District CDRC will be heard by the State CDRC.
  • Appeals from the State CDRC will be heard by the National CDRC.
  • Final appeal will lie before the Supreme Court.

Jurisdiction of CDRCs

  • The District CDRC will entertain complaints where value of goods and services does not exceed Rs one crore.
  • The State CDRC will entertain complaints when the value is more than Rs one crore but does not exceed Rs 10 crore.
  • Complaints with value of goods and services over Rs 10 crore will be entertained by the National CDRC.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The Act sets up the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions as quasi-judicial bodies to adjudicate disputes.
  • The Act empowers the central government to appoint members to these Commissions.
  • The Act does not specify that the Commissions will comprise a judicial member.
  • If the Commissions were to have members only from the executive, the principal of separation of powers may be violated.
  • The Act empowers the central government to appoint, remove and prescribe conditions of service for members of the District, State and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions.
  • The Act leaves the composition of the Commissions to the central government. This could affect the independence of these quasi-judicial bodies.
  • Consumer Protection Councils will be set up at the district, state, and national level, as advisory bodies.
  • The State and National Councils are headed by Ministers in-charge of Consumer Affairs.
  • The Act does not specify whom the Councils will advise.
  • If the Councils advise the government, it is unclear in what capacity such advice will be given.

Significance

  • The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) provides executive remedies to the consumers.
  • Deterrent punishment to check misleading advertisements and adulteration of products.
  • Product liability provision provides to deter manufacturers and service providers from delivering defective products or deficient services.
  • Ease of approaching Consumer Commission and Simplification of Adjudication process.
  • Scope for early disposal of cases through mediation.

GS- 2 Paper

Topics Covered- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Competition Commission of India (CCI)

Context

Competition Commission of India finds the conduct and practice of Jaiprakash Associates Limited to be in contravention of Competition Law.

About CCI

Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India, responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an adverse effect on competition.

It was established on 14 October 2003 and it became fully functional in May 2009.

Objectives of CCI

The objectives of the Act are sought to be achieved through the Competition Commission of India, which has been established by the Central Government with effect from 14th October 2003.

  1. To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition,
  2. To promote and sustain competition in markets,
  3. To protect the interests of consumers,
  4. To ensure freedom of trade.

Function of CCI

  • CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
  • It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition.
  • It protects the interests of consumers and ensures freedom of trade in the markets of India.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law.
  • To undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

The Competition Act, 2002

  • The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, follows the philosophy of modern competition laws.
  • The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

For prelims-

Swachh Survekshan 2020

Context

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing & Urban Affairs launched the Swachh Survekshan 2020 (SS 2020).

Highlights

  • Swachh Survekshan 2020 (SS 2020) is the fifth edition of the annual cleanliness survey conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
  • The Swachh Survekshan 2020 Toolkit, SBM Water PLUS Protocol and Toolkit, Swachh Nagar – an integrated waste management app and AI enabled mSBM App were also launched.
  • SS 2020 will be conducted in January 2020.

Key Focus Area of SS 2020

  • Collect segregated waste and maintain till processing site
  • Utilize capacity of wet waste processing facilities
  • Treat and reuse waste water
  • Follow 3R principles: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
  • Curtail solid waste based air pollution
  • Uplift the social condition of informal waste pickers
  • Promote procurement through GeM
  • Assess Ganga towns separately to accelerate action
  • Engage technology driven monitoring.

Water PLUS Protocol

  • The Water PLUS protocol aims to provide a guideline for cities and towns to ensure that no untreated wastewater is released into the environment thereby enabling sustainability of the sanitation value chain.
  • This is in line with the Government’s focus on water conversation and reuse under the Jal Shakti Abhiyan.
  • It aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation.
  • The toolkit provides the detailed SBM Water Plus protocol laid down by MoHUA,

Swachh Nagar Mobile App

  • This app has features-
  1. tracking of waste collection by ULBs through route and vehicle monitoring,
  2. notification to citizens,
  3. online collection of user fee for waste collection and an effective grievance redressal mechanism,
  • It will be the answer to several issues that hinder effective waste management such as lack of monitoring, collection of segregated waste, and tracking the movement of waste vehicles and waste pickers, amongst others.

Climate Change dialogue

  • The UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Poland December 2018.
  • Poland held the Presidency of the Climate Convention for the third time.
  • It resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement Work Programme.
  • The international community finally has operational guidelines to translate their climate pledges under the Paris Agreement into concrete action.
  • This provides an important step for delivering action at the transformational scale necessary to limit the global average temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the central goal of the Paris Agreement.
  • The COP-24 finalized a “rulebook” to operationalise 2015 Paris Agreement.
  • It set out how countries will provide information about their Nationally Determined Contributions describing their domestic climate actions, mitigation and adaptation measures.
  • It addressed some concerns about the opaqueness of climate financing, such as, developed nations will have to provide hard data on the sources of future financial flows.
  • Climate finance refers to local, national or transnational financing, drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing.
  • It seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change.
  • Under Paris Agreement, developed countries have committed to provide $100 billion annually from 2020 for dealing with climate change.

Operation Number Plate

Context

RPF Launches “Operation Number Plate” across Indian Railways.

Highlights

  • Railway Protection Force (RPF) of Indian Railways launched a Special Drive with a Code Name – Operation “Number Plate”.
  • It is to identify and verify all vehicles parked in Railway premises circulating area, parkings and even in the ‘No Parking’ areas for longer duration.
  • The unidentified vehicles are considered as a serious threat to security and safety of passengers and other stake holders of railways.