Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is a legislation which protects the consumers from being exploited. From the expression ‘seller is king’ to ‘buyer is king’, this legislation has tremendously helped and guided in not only providing adequate remedies but also to create social awareness among people about their rights. The Act has successfully established consumer forums from district to national level. However, with the changes in technology and introduction of e- commerce, the 1986 legislation was incompetent and lacked in many areas. Thereby, the Consumer Protection Act 2019 has been passed which introduced certain changes to suit the requirements of present situation.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 effectively provides for compensation in cases of defect and deficiency in the services availed by consumers even if it is availed through online mediums. The manufacturers will be strictly held liable, also suppliers, retailers and distributors can be held liable. The burden of proof in proving the deficiency lies on the consumer of such services. The consumer needs to prove that they were not involved in any kind of willful facts, shortcomings, imperfection or inadequacy in the service so availed.
The 2019 Act, provides for e- filing of complaints by the consumers, also there has been provisions made for taking evidence and other procedures through video conferencing. Secondly, the Act includes and defines unfair trade practices and respects the privacy of the consumer, where information said in confidence cannot be disclosed except with the provisions of law. Before filing an appeal, the opposing party has to pay 50% of the amount ordered by the District commission. The 2019 Act recognizes e- commerce transactions and mediation as an alternative dispute resolution.
Section 2(11) of the Act defines deficiency to mean, “any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service and includes
(a) any act of negligence or omission or commission by such person to the consumer and
(b) deliberate withholding of relevant information by such person to the consumer.”1
In any kind of buyer- seller relationship, deficiencies in service provided can happen, be it in entertainment services or health, transportation, railways, hospitality, banking or any other kind of service. Such deficiencies can vary from minor discomfort, mental or physical injury and in some extreme cases it may even lead to death.
In the case of Gurshinder Singh v Shriam General Insurance Co. Ltd and Ors2, it was observed that insurance claims should not be declined only on certain technical grounds. If the claim is rejected due to the untimely intimation of occurrence of theft/ robbery, it will do great harm to the consumer.
In Indian Medical Association v V.P.Shantha3, the liability of doctors and hospital management in cases of negligence were brought under the purview of deficiency.
By the 2019 amendment, the deficiency in services provided by the e- commerce sector was also recognized. Thereby, providing relief to a number of grieving consumers over the deficiencies provided by such platforms. The 2019 Amendment, is a welcome measure introduced which brings about changes in certain complaint mechanisms too.
1 Akansha Bhattarai, deficiency under Consumer Protection Act, 2019, LATEST LAWS, (Nov 16, 2021, 5: 07 pm), https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/deficiency-in-service-under-consumer-protection-act-2019.
2 CA No. 653 of 2020.
3 1996 AIR 550, 1995 SCC (6) 651.Trending Courses:
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