The Consumer Protection Bill, 2018

The Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 5th January 2018 and was passed in the ongoing session of the Parliament on 20th December 2018. The Bill comes as much-needed relief to the consumers and the administration. The previous Act had not been dynamically changed since it came into force and the new bill which is to replace the 1986 act is a huge step forward.

The Bill, if passed by the Rajya Sabha, would result in a more robust structure of consumer protection in the country. The new Bill is proposed to make any changes to the existing laws as well as the judicial and administrative framework of the consumer protection mechanism. The key changes to be brought in by the Bill are iterated below.

[1] The new bill expands the ambit of consumer protection itself by explicitly including the transactions under telecommunication, online and teleshopping transactions, housing constructions, etc for consideration. However, it still excludes free and personal services. There was always a limitation in the implementation of the act with regard to e-commerce platforms and other related transactions, thus, this specific inclusion opens doors to redressal of a lot of consumer troubles.

[2] In addition to the pre-existing list of unfair trade practices under the act, the Bill has prescribed the addition of three more such practices:  (i) failure to issue a bill or receipt; (ii) refusal to accept a good returned within 30 days; and (iii) disclosure of personal information given in confidence, unless required by law or in the public interest. This change was necessary due to the fact that a lot of complaints filed with the authorities were related to these basic issues which took up a lot of time and resources of the government body. Moreover, these additions also aid in increasing the answerability of the goods and service providers when handling consumer information and data. These inclusions look towards lowering the amount of freedom given to the providers to do what they may please and completely disregard the needs of the consumers. These provisions are in the true spirit of the basic principles of this consumer-centric Act.

[3] The Bill has added provisions regarding product liability whereby, the consumer may present a claim against the manufacturer, service provider, and seller. Furthermore, the compensation can be more easily obtained by proving any of the details which are presented in the bill to the consumer. The evidentiary value of the billing process has been increased by listing it as an unfair trade practice as well and also by laying emphasis on the terms and conditions listed in the bill in order for the consumer to be granted compensation.

[4] The Bill also added provisions relating to unfair contracts which were absent in the Act previously. Unfair contracts are defined as contracts that cause a significant change in consumer rights and a list of six terms are given which are deemed to give rise to an unfair contract which includes the following: (i) requiring excessive security deposits; (ii) imposing a disproportionate penalty for a breach in the contract; (iii) refusing to accept early repayment of debts; (iv) terminating the contract without reasonable cause; (v) transferring a contract to a third party to the detriment of the consumer without his consent, or (vi) imposing unreasonable charge or obligations which put the consumer at a disadvantage.

[5] One of the major changes was brought in by establishing a Regulator under the act. The Bill establishes the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) in order to promote, protect, and enforce the rights of consumers as a class. CCPA is also given the powers to (i) issue safety notices; (ii) pass orders to recall goods, prevent unfair practices, and reimburse purchase price paid; and (iii) impose penalties for false and misleading advertisements. The need for a regulator in the Consumer Protection framework had been long felt in order to be an omnipresent body that can single-handedly regulate the affairs of consumers as a class and keep in check the goods and service providers. The Regulator would also decrease the burden on the judicial bodies under the act.

[6] The Bill also amends the pecuniary jurisdictions of the District, State, and National Commissions. The District’s jurisdiction has been increased to Rs. 1 crore from Rs. 20 lakhs. The State’s jurisdiction has been increased from Rs. 1 crore to now Rs. 10 crores. And the National jurisdiction has been increased to include claims of over Rs. 10 crore. This amendment provides for a more free-range for the three-tiered structure to function as an adjudicating authority and to also have a just distribution of their respective jurisdictions in light of the rise in the pecuniary aspect of the claims.

[7] The Composition of the Commissions has also been altered. Previously, retired/current judges and two/four members were selected as the presiding authority but the Bill proposes that the Commission be headed by a President and two/four members as the case may be.

[8] Changes have also been brought regarding the process of appointment of the Members of the Commission. Previously, the members were appointed by way of a selection committee which comprised of retired judges and other members. However, now the requirement of the Selection Committee has been deleted and the appointment was to directly take place by way of a notification by the central government.

[9] Another stark change has been brought in by attachment of a Mediation Cell with each of the District, State, and National Commissions, which was absent in the Act. The addition of Mediation as a form of dispute redressal would result in a lot of preservation of time and resources of the Commissions at each level and also result in the faster and amicable resolution of disputes. In most Consumer Protection matters, the need is only for simple communication and agreement on terms of compensation and by way of mediation, the same can be achieved.

[10] The penalties under the Act for non-compliance have been increased under the Bill by increasing the fine imposed on a person. The fine has been increased to be between Rs. 25 thousand to Rs. 1 lakh whereas it was previously between Rs. 2 thousand to Rs. 10 thousand only. This increase is aimed at getting quicker action from the parties on the orders passed by the Commissions. Some parties would even risk non-compliance just because of the meager, unaffecting sum, rather than following through on the orders passed.

[11] The much-needed provisions relating to e-commerce platforms have been added by the Bill of 2018 wherein it defines direct selling, e-commerce, and electronic service providers. And also authorizes the central government to prescribe rules for preventing unfair trade practices in e-commerce and direct selling by their respective service providers.

Even though the Bill makes many requisite changes to the existing structure of consumer protection there are also questions being raised over several aspects of the new Bill. There are concerns over the new composition of the quasi-judicial bodies or Commissions which till now have exercised the powers which are similar to the civil courts. However, now the Bill prescribes that a president would preside over the Commission but doesn’t specify the qualifications thereof, whether the President so appointed by the CG would have to have any prior judicial experience to head a quasi-judicial body or not. This according to some, results in a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers as the bureaucracy would be given direct control over the judicial aspects of the framework. Furthermore, the involvement of executives in the appointment of judicial members may adversely affect the independence of the judiciary in this case.

The Act also hints at imposing penalties upon any celebrities who endorse misleading products which have caused another discussion to arise regarding the extent of liability of advertisers or endorsers and celebrity rights and protection. The extent of vicarious liability in such cases is questionable.

Author: Ms. Yashvi Padhya Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at

Leave a Reply



  • May 2024
  • April 2024
  • March 2024
  • February 2024
  • January 2024
  • December 2023
  • November 2023
  • October 2023
  • September 2023
  • August 2023
  • July 2023
  • June 2023
  • May 2023
  • April 2023
  • March 2023
  • February 2023
  • January 2023
  • December 2022
  • November 2022
  • October 2022
  • September 2022
  • August 2022
  • July 2022
  • June 2022
  • May 2022
  • April 2022
  • March 2022
  • February 2022
  • January 2022
  • December 2021
  • November 2021
  • October 2021
  • September 2021
  • August 2021
  • July 2021
  • June 2021
  • May 2021
  • April 2021
  • March 2021
  • February 2021
  • January 2021
  • December 2020
  • November 2020
  • October 2020
  • September 2020
  • August 2020
  • July 2020
  • June 2020
  • May 2020
  • April 2020
  • March 2020
  • February 2020
  • January 2020
  • December 2019
  • November 2019
  • October 2019
  • September 2019
  • August 2019
  • July 2019
  • June 2019
  • May 2019
  • April 2019
  • March 2019
  • February 2019
  • January 2019
  • December 2018
  • November 2018
  • October 2018
  • September 2018
  • August 2018
  • July 2018
  • June 2018
  • May 2018
  • April 2018
  • March 2018
  • February 2018
  • January 2018
  • December 2017
  • November 2017
  • September 2017
  • August 2017
  • July 2017
  • June 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • January 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • October 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • June 2016
  • May 2016
  • April 2016
  • March 2016
  • February 2016
  • January 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • October 2015
  • September 2015
  • August 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • March 2015
  • February 2015
  • January 2015
  • December 2014
  • November 2014
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • July 2014
  • June 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • March 2014
  • February 2014
  • January 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • September 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010