Proposed amendments to the consumer protection Act suggests for the creation of a separate consumer protection forum, which can file class action suits against companies on its own accord, firms and sellers. Two Cabinet ministers came down on errant e-commerce companies, as they strongly pushed for revamping of the Consumer Protection Act to protect the rights of consumers against errant players.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley emphasised the need for a provision where consumers can file class action suits against fraudulent sellers, particularly in the area of e-commerce, which is dynamically changing the marketplace. "Globally, the best practice is you allow a class action in these cases. You also have to regulate the extent of reviews and appeals and the grounds on which multiple appeals can be filed," he said.
Consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that consumers were often taken for a ride at three levels. "First, they are allured by misleading advertisements. Subsequently, when they buy an item online, either they don't get it in time or the product they get is sub-standard. There is no relief after you buy an item. The transactions are happening online and the buyer and seller never meet," the minister said. Paswan stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants these institutions to be strengthened since these are the windows for justice to the poorest of the poor.
"The volume of trade in e-commerce is only going to increase. That's how trade is going to change. So, under these circumstances, we need a very powerful and efficient (consumer) forum. The manner in which representations are made and the underlying principle of buyer being aware of the nature of goods and services itself will now have to be rewritten," Jaitley said. He said that to improve the working of these forums, funds won't be a problem. "It's the desire to send the funds in the right direction, that's important and both the Centre and the states will have to put their heads in order."