In the year 1986 the consumer protection act was introduced in India for the first time because at that time the intra-industry revolution had started in the country. The country needed an act which could cope up with the needs and rights of the consumer. Before this, a different act related to industry were released such as Sales of Goods Act, Contract Act etc. But these acts did not contain specific provisions for the protection of rights of consumer. So, the Act of 1986 was introduced for the same. The act focused on the speedy trial of the consumer disputes and to protect the rights of consumers in State and Central levels. The principle of natural justice was followed under this act. This act had some of the rights of consumers such as the right to be heard, right to be assured, right to be informed etc.
There were several amendments before the year 2019 in the Act of 1986 but noticing the changes in the commerce sector, the government enacted a new act for the consumer protections that is the Consumer Protection Act 2019. This Act was enacted to keep the emphasis on e-commerce as well as the ordinary commerce. Also, this Act introduced many of the new concepts which were absent from the past amendment. The new Act was enacted so that a new proper base could be created for the protection of consumers and the main reason was that the conditions from 1986 had also changed a lot since then. So, the Act of 2019 provides for a new concept as compared to 1986. The other cause is that the commerce at that time was much traditional and now the commerce is a way is a much new concept.
Critiques of Consumer protection Act, 1986
The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was implemented by looking at the conditions of that time. The act constituted of all the provisions which were necessary for dealing with the industrial disputes of that time. Along with the time, the commerce sector grew and also incorporated new ways. The act of 1986 did not contain much elaborated solutions to these problems. The Act contained only 32 Sections. The sections were divided into chapters which are:
2. Consumer Protection Council
3. Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies
These four chapters contain information about the steps and punishments that can be granted by these authorities. Along with this, the steps that can be taken by them. These were not sufficient for dealing with the issues of the consumers at present. Also, the punishments provided by these were not sufficient to compensate for a fraud. Therefore, the government decided to formulate a new Act.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
In year 2019, a new Act emerged with the specific additions to it. The main additions were related to the definitions and the authorities which can handle the issues. The methods which can be useful for setting issues were also added. The new act has 107 Sections in it. The act provides for detailed information about everything so that there is a transparency in the working. The consumers can approach to the appropriate authority for stating their issues. Additional sections have been added to give a detailed study about everything. This can comprehend everything that was missing in all the amendments.
The table below provides the comparative analysis of Act of 1986 and 2019. The comparison if from Section 54- 107 of the new act with the similar provisions of the act of 1986.
Consumer Protection Act, 1986
The act provides for the formation of a national commission from Section 20 to Section 24. The sections provide for composition, qualifications, jurisdiction appeal and transfer of cases.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019- The act provides for formation of National Commission from Section 54 to Section 70. The sections provide for the composition, qualification, procedure, jurisdiction, procedure, review, transfer, service of notice, experts to assist national commission and all the other details that are capable of fulfilling the needs of the commission.
Consumer Protection Act, 1986- No transitional provision in relation to National Commission exists.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019- Section 56 provides for transitional provision which states that the President or the other members who were appointed before the commencement of Section 177 of Finance Act, 1996 will be governed as per the Act of 1986.
Enforcement of orders of District, State and National Commission
Consumer Protection Act, 1986-The enforcement of the order is not in relation with any of the civil law
Consumer Protection Act, 2019- Any order of the commissions will enforceable as a decree and the rules as per Order XXI of the Schedule One of the Civil procedure Code will be applicable.
Dismissal of frivolous complaints
Consumer Protection Act, 1986- The provision is mentioned for the dismissal of any frivolous complaints made to any of the forums.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019- No provision for dismissal mentioned.
Consumer Protection Act,1986- The fine mentioned in the Act is from one thousand to ten thousand
Consumer Protection Act,2019- The fine mentioned in the Act is from twenty-five thousand to one lakh
Chapter of mediation
Consumer Protection Act, 1986-No such chapter is provided in the Act neither any provisions are related to it
Consumer Protection Act, 2019- Chapter V of the Act states the Mediation.
Composition and working of Mediation Cell
Consumer Protection Act, 1986- Not provided
Consumer Protection Act, 2019- Section 74 to 81 states the details related to mediation cell.
A mediation cell shall be attached to the state commission.
Selection of a panel of the mediators which is to be done by the committee of the members consisting of the president and other members of the said commission.
The mediator is to disclose all the things related to disputes and the knowledge related to the case.
The dissatisfaction of the commission with the mediator can lead to replacement of the mediator.
The mediator is to follow the principle of natural justice.
The report of settlement related to the dispute is to be prepared by the mediator and to be sent to the respected commission.
After receiving the report, the concerned commission is to pass the order within 7 days of receiving the report from the mediator.
Chapter of product liability
Consumer Protection Act, 1986- Not present in the act
Consumer Protection Act, 2019- Chapter VI comprises of the product liability which constates section from 82 to 87.
The chapter consists of the liability of the product manufacturer in the case of a defective product.
The product manufacturer is to be liable if he fails to comply with the warnings mentioned, specifications mentioned, does not contain instructions to avoid harm to the consumer.
The manufacturer is barred from taking the defence of negligence in this case.
This is specifically for making the products more accurate for the consumers.
Chapter for offences and penalties
Not provided in the act.
Chapter VII comprises of various offences and their penalties specifically.
For non- compliance with the directions of the central authority.
For providing fake advertisement of the product which may lead to imprisonment of 5 years and fine of 5o lakhs.
For manufacturing, storing and selling foods with adulterant products and the products that are spurious.
The punishments are separately mention ed for each offence.
Chapter IV provides for miscellaneous things.
It includes the service of notice and some powers of the authorities.
Chapter VIII states miscellaneous.
Section 94 to 107.
It provides for measures to be taken for unfair trade practices in e commerce.
Compounding of offences.
Power to give direction to central government.
Non- derogation of this act with the other acts.
Powers of National Commission and Central Authority.
Power to remove difficulties.
As mentioned in the table, there are many differences that exist between both the Acts. The differences that are mentioned are due to change in the working environment. The changes that are made in the act of 2019 were made for the following reasons:
a) For making the Act more comprehensive and detailed.
b) Providing all the missing information that led to delay in the proceedings.
c) Increasing the punishment and amount of penalty due to change in the time period.
d) Making offences and penalties more proper.
e) Bringing mediation as a new way of resolving disputes and making it a helping hand of the commission.
f) Inserting a chapter of product liability to make the manufacturers aware and deliver the correct product to the consumers.
g) Providing penalties related to e-commerce too etc.
Therefore, due to existence of many reasons, the Act of 2019 came into existence.
The Act of 2019 was a need of the hour. Due to the incomplete information that was present in the Act of 1986, there existed internal disputes. Therefore, it became much more important to replace it with a new and proper Act. The new Act provides for separate provisions for each thing that makes it more proper. The new chapters that have been added to this act, work as a proper criterion for deciding the offences and penalties. The increase in the monetary value along with the time needed a rise in the value of fine too. This makes the crime a serious offence. Therefore, the new Act is action that was taken by the government as the amendments in the old act would have made it more unorganised.