An informal group of ministers has okayed a proposal to set up a consumer protection authority which will have the power to recall unsafe and hazardous products or recommend action against the companies to the sector-specific regulators.
The new authority can even add new provisions to make the grievance redress mechanism more consumer-friendly. Moreover, a new set of laws for class action suits will be formulated as per the Indian needs.
A class action suit is one in which one or several persons sue on behalf of a larger group of persons referred to as ‘the class’. The companies or producers would have to pay compensation for damage to consumers if the new proposals are made into consumer protection laws.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley who heads the inter-ministerial group has told the consumer affairs ministry that to avoid overlap among different regulators, the proposed authority must refer the investigative reports to the sector-specific regulators like Competition Commission of India (CCI), Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) and the Vehicle Regulation and Road Safety Authority of India expected to be set up soon.
Moreover, Jaitley has suggested that consumers should be allowed to argue their case at every level irrespective of the amount. “He has suggested it should be on the lines of civil procedure code (CPC) where a complainant can argue his case even up to the Supreme Court. The proposal floated by the consumer affairs ministry was not to allow advocates in cases involving an amount less than Rs 20 lakh,” said a source.