The Consumer Protection Bill was discussed and passed in Lok Sabha today. The Bill seeks to replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.  It enforces consumer rights, and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints regarding defect in goods and deficiency in services. It also contains provisions to redress complaints of product liability and unfair contracts.  Under the provisions of the Bill, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions will be set up at the District, State and National levels for adjudicating consumer complaints. Appeals from the District and State Commissions will be heard at the next level and from the National Commission by the Supreme Court.

During the discussion of the Bill, several members raised certain issues with the provisions mentioned in the Bill. These include:

  1. The Bill sets up the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions as quasi-judicial bodies to adjudicate disputes.  It empowers the central government to appoint members to these Commissions. However, the Bill does not specify that the Commissions will comprise a judicial member. If the Commissions were to have members only from the executive, it may violate the principle of separation of powers between the executive and judiciary.
     
  2. The Bill 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 Bill leaves the manner of selection of the members of these Commissions with the central government.  There may be instances where the government may be a party to a dispute relating to deficiency in service provided by a government enterprise.  In such a case, there would be a conflict of interest as the government would be a party to the dispute before the Commissions and will also have the power to appoint members to the Commission.  This could affect the independence of these quasi-judicial bodies.

The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities(Amendment) Bill was passed by Parliament today. The Bill has provisions for the tenure of the Chairman and board of members.

The Companies (Amendment) Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha today. The Bill replaces an Ordinance currently in force. It amends several provisions in the Companies Act, 2013 relating to offences and penalties, among others.  

Rajya Sabha remained adjourned for most of the day