Laying the ground for a Central Consumer Protection Authority, the Consumer Protection Bill 2018 seeks a complete overhaul in the consumer rights replacing the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The highlights of the bill include grounds for class-action suits, treatment of complaints regarding a faulty product or service as representative, clear specifics regarding what constitutes false and unfulfilled claims, providing up to two to five years' jail term, Rs.10 lakh fine, and one year ban from making endorsements for defaulters and up to Rs. 50 lakh fine for repeat offenders.
Highlighting the obvious vulnerability, the bill states, “The modern market place contains a plethora of products and services. The emergence of global supply chains, rise in international trade and the rapid development of e-commerce have led to new delivery systems for goods and services and have provided new options and opportunities for consumers. Equally, this has rendered the consumer vulnerable to new forms of unfair trade and unethical business practices”. Pradeep Mehta, CUTS International, said, "In an earlier era, issues like misleading ads and cheating were dealt with under the Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Act. But since the Competition Act, 2002, replaced the MRTP Act, it left out effective regulations to deal with unfair trade practices. This new bill hopefully will address these shortcomings”.