LS passes Consumer Bill to enforce buyers‘ rights

New Delhi: Amid calls for bringing healthcare, education and telecom sector under the ambit of consumer protection laws, Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Consumer Protection Bill 2018. The Bill provides for the protection of consumers interest by establishing authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers' disputes.

Replying to the issues raised by several members, Union food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that the overall purpose of the legislation is to ease the process of addressing consumers’ grievances  with regard to defects and deficiency in goods and  services.

During the discussion, members raised several points that were of public interest. NCP member Supriya Sule talked about food adulteration, healthcare and education that need to be covered under the consumer protection law. BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy suggested that cases of call drops and power cuts should also be brought under the ambit of the new law.

TDP’s Jayadev Galla said that the Supreme Court had ruled saying medical services, for which a fee is charged, comes under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act. “But, conspicuously, the Bill has left out this direction of the Supreme Court. Not just paid service, even service provided in Government hospitals free of charge should be included in this Bill. It is not about whether they are charging something or not, but it is about the rights of a consumer, regardless of whether the service is free or chargeable. So, even free Government services should be brought under this Bill,” Mr Galla said.

The Bill paves way for central government to set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) that can investigate, recall, refund and impose penalties.

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