Empowering Consumers: Navigating the Digital Age and Celebrating Consumer Rights on National Consumer Day
National Consumer Day is observed annually on December 24th in India, marking the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. It emphasizes awareness of consumer rights, responsibilities, and the significance of protection. The Act was a pivotal step in safeguarding consumers from unfair practices and ensuring quality standards. This year’s theme is “Consumer Protection in the era of E-Commerce and Digital Trade”.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, was the most recent amendment to the Consumer Protection Act in India. The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, came into effect on July 20, 2020. This Act aimed to strengthen consumer rights and protection in the wake of changing market dynamics, especially with the growth of e-commerce and digital platforms.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 in India introduced several provisions to safeguard consumers in the context of e-commerce. These features are designed to enhance consumer rights, provide mechanisms for dispute resolution, and establish accountability for e-commerce entities. Here are some key silent features of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 relevant to e-commerce:
Definition of E-Commerce-The Act explicitly defines e-commerce to cover buying or selling of goods or services, including digital products, over a digital or electronic network.
Consumer Rights in E-Commerce -The Act reinforces consumer rights in the digital space, ensuring that consumers have the right to information, right to choice, right to safety, and right to be heard in e-commerce transactions.
Liability -E-commerce entities are held accountable for the authenticity of goods and services they provide. Any false or misleading advertisements, as well as the sale of counterfeit products, can lead to legal consequences for the e-commerce platforms.
Establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)-The Act establishes the CCPA to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers, specifically in the context of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements in e-commerce.
E-Commerce Redressal Mechanism-The Act provides for the establishment of Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions at the district, state, and national levels. These commissions have the authority to handle and resolve complaints related to e-commerce.
Product Liability in E-Commerce-Manufacturers, sellers, and service providers are held liable for any harm caused to consumers due to defective products or deficient services, including those transacted through e-commerce platforms.
Consumer Protection against Unfair trade practices -Unfair trade practices, including deceptive advertising, are expressly prohibited. E-commerce entities are obligated to provide accurate information about products and services, pricing, and terms and conditions to prevent misleading consumers.
E-commerce Terms & Conditions -E-commerce platforms are required to prominently display terms and conditions, including the return policy, refund policy, and grievance redressal mechanism. This ensures transparency in transactions and helps consumers make informed choices.
Digital Contracts & Payments -The Act recognizes digital contracts and transactions, offering protection to consumers engaging in online transactions. It addresses issues related to online payment systems and electronic contracts to enhance consumer confidence in digital commerce.
Consumer Awareness and Education -The Act emphasizes the importance of consumer awareness and education. E-commerce entities are encouraged to contribute to consumer awareness programs to inform users about their rights and responsibilities in online transactions.
In the modern age, our strength as consumers comes from understanding our rights, practicing responsible behaviour, and actively supporting efforts that champion consumer rights. Let’s navigate the digital landscape with care, ensuring our rights are upheld, and collaboratively contribute to building a fair and secure online marketplace.