CENTRAL CONSUMER PROTECTION AUTHORITY
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Context: The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued a notice to Amazon for selling sweets under the misleading name 'Shri Ram Mandir Ayodhya Prasad.'
- The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has recently issued a notice to Amazon regarding the sale of sweets under the misleading name of 'Shri Ram Mandir Ayodhya Prasad.'
- The CCPA has taken this step in response to a representation made by the Confederation of All India Traders, which alleged that Amazon is involved in deceptive trade practices in the sale of sweets under this particular name.
- The Central Consumer Protection Authority has issued a notice to Amazon. The notice warns that if Amazon fails to respond within the stipulated time, necessary action may be initiated against the company under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
- The Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution Ministry emphasizes that enabling the sale of food products online with false representations misleads consumers about the genuine characteristics of the product.
- The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, prohibits unfair trade practices, which include misleading advertisements and false representations about the quality or standard of goods.
Central Consumer Protection Authority
- Consumer protection is a vital aspect of ensuring a fair and transparent market economy. Consumers are often vulnerable to unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements, defective goods and services, and other forms of exploitation by sellers and service providers.
- To safeguard the interests of consumers and promote their welfare, the Government of India enacted the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which replaced the previous Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
- One of the most significant features of the new act is the establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), a regulatory body that aims to protect, promote and enforce the rights of consumers.
- The CCPA is empowered to take suo moto action against any violation of consumer rights, initiate investigations and prosecutions, order recall of unsafe goods and services, impose penalties and compensation, issue guidelines and directions, and undertake consumer awareness and advocacy activities.
- The CCPA is a statutory body set up under Section 10(1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. It consists of a Chief Commissioner and two Commissioners (one each for goods and services), appointed by the Central Government.
Significance of CCPA
- It acts as a watchdog and a deterrent against unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements, defective goods and services, etc. It can take preventive as well as punitive action against any violation of consumer rights.
- It provides speedy and effective relief to consumers without requiring them to approach the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (CDRCs). It can order the recall of goods or withdrawal of hazardous services; pass cease and desist orders against false or misleading advertisements; impose penalties on manufacturers or endorsers or publishers of such advertisements; direct payment of compensation to consumers; etc.
- It enhances consumer awareness and education by issuing guidelines, advisories, notices, etc. on various consumer issues. It also undertakes consumer advocacy activities by representing consumers before the CDRCs or other authorities or forums.
- It promotes fair competition and transparency in the market by ensuring compliance with the provisions of the act and other laws relating to consumer protection. It also fosters consumer trust and confidence in the market.
Steps taken to strengthen consumer protection framework
●The National Consumer Helpline has been set up to provide guidance and assistance to consumers on various issues. It also registers complaints and forwards them to the concerned authorities or agencies for redressal.
●The Consumer App has been launched to provide a platform for consumers to access information, lodge complaints, track status, etc. It also provides features such as a consumer handbook, product recall alerts, consumer news, etc.
●The Online Consumer Mediation Centre has been established to provide online mediation services for resolution of consumer disputes. It also provides training and capacity building for mediators and stakeholders.
●The Grahak Suvidha Kendras have been set up to provide physical access points for consumers to avail of various services such as filing complaints, obtaining information, seeking guidance, etc.
●The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has launched its e-filing portal to enable the online filing of complaints and appeals before it. It also provides online case status, cause lists, judgments, etc.
Challenges faced by CCPA
- Lack of adequate infrastructure, manpower and resources to carry out its functions effectively and efficiently. The CCPA is still in its nascent stage and needs to be fully operationalized and equipped with the necessary facilities and staff.
- Lack of coordination and cooperation among various stakeholders such as central and state governments, CDRCs, other regulators, industry associations, consumer associations, etc. The CCPA needs to establish a mechanism for regular consultation and collaboration with these stakeholders to ensure smooth functioning and avoid duplication or conflict of roles.
- Lack of awareness and sensitization among consumers and sellers about their rights and responsibilities under the act. The CCPA needs to undertake extensive outreach and communication campaigns to educate and inform the public about the provisions of the act and the role of the CCPA.
- Lack of data and research on consumer issues and trends. The CCPA needs to develop a robust database and information system to collect, analyze and disseminate data on various consumer issues. It also needs to conduct research and studies on emerging consumer issues and challenges.
Way forward for CCPA
- Strengthen its institutional capacity and capability by augmenting its infrastructure, manpower and resources. It also needs to adopt modern technology and tools to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
- Enhance its coordination and cooperation with other stakeholders by establishing a formal mechanism for regular dialogue and exchange of information. It also needs to leverage the expertise and experience of other regulators and agencies in dealing with consumer issues.
- Increase its awareness and sensitization efforts by launching innovative and interactive campaigns using various media platforms. It also needs to involve celebrities, influencers, civil society organizations, etc. in spreading the message of consumer rights and empowerment.
- Improve its data and research base by creating a comprehensive database and information system on consumer issues. It also needs to conduct periodic surveys, audits, evaluations, etc. to assess the impact of its interventions and identify gaps and areas for improvement.
- The Central Consumer Protection Authority plays a vital role in safeguarding the interests of Indian consumers. Its comprehensive set of powers, proactive approach, and focus on consumer education make it a force for good in the Indian marketplace. However, the CCPA needs to continuously adapt and evolve to address emerging challenges and ensure continued protection for consumers in the face of a dynamic market environment.
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Central Consumer Protection Authority: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/central-consumer-protection-authority
Q. In the context of platform-based work arrangements, where the traditional employer-employee relationship is blurred, how can existing consumer protection laws be adapted to protect the rights and interests of workers engaged in the gig economy? Should they be classified as consumers, and if so, what specific protections should be extended to them?