Consumer Protection Current Affairs

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March 15: World Consumer Rights Day

The World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is celebrated every year on March 15 to pay solidarity with the international consumer movement and give more attention to promote basic rights of consumers.

Significance of Day: It provides (i) an opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers (ii) demand those rights that must be respected and protected and (ii) for those protesting against the market abuses and social injustices.

2017 Theme: ‘Building a Digital World Consumers can Trust’.

Background

The WCRD commemorate the historic address given by the then US President John F Kennedy to the US congress on this day in 1962. In his historic address he had outlined the definition of consumer rights for the first time. He was the first world leader to formally define ‘consumer rights’. The first WCRD was observed on 15 March 1983 and has since become an important occasion for mobilizing citizen action. In 2016, WCRD was observed with the theme “Antibiotics off the menu”.

Note: In India, 24th December is observed as National Consumer Day. On this day in 1986, Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the President.

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December 24: National Consumer Day

The National Consumer Day is observed every year in India on 24th December. On this day the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the President.

Observance of this day provides an opportunity for individuals to highlight the importance of the consumer movement and promote the basic rights and responsibilities of all consumers

The Department of Consumer Affairs under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution is celebrating this day this year with the theme Alternate Consumer Disputes Redressal.

Consumer Protection Act, 1986

The enactment of this Act was considered as a historic milestone in the consumer movement in the country. This Act aims to provide consumers with effective safeguards against different types of exploitation such as defective goods, unsatisfactory services and unfair trade practices.

It provides consumers with speedy and inexpensive redressal grievances mechanism and specific relief or award of compensation. It recognizes six of the eight rights of the consumer as provided in the UN charter. It envisages following rights of consumers (i) Right to Protection. (ii) Right of Information. (iii) Right of Choice. (iv) Right of Hearing. (v) Right of Redressal. (vi) Right of Education.

Note: The World Consumer Rights Day is observed on 15th March.

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GoM recommends heavy fine and ban on celebrities endorsing products in misleading ads

A high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) has approved imposing a heavy fine and ban on celebrities who endorse products making unrealistic and dodgy claims.

The GoM headed by Union Finance Minister was tasked to look into the issue of Celebrity endrosement and recommendations of Standing Committee of the Parliament on the recently introduced The Consumer Protection Bill, 2015.

GoM recommendations

  • First time offender celebrities should be fined Rs 10 lakh and banned for one year.
  • Second and subsequent offenders should be fined Rs 50 lakh and banned for up to 3 year.
  • Dropped Standing committee’s proposal of jail term to celebrities found guilty for misleading endorsement.

Background

  • The Union Government had introduced The Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 in Parliament to replace the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 to deal with consumer protection and safety.
  • The bill proposes tough measures for the protection of consumer rights and providing strict punishment to violators.
  • After its introduction it was referred to a Standing Committee, which gave a report suggesting measures like making celebrities accountable for the brands they endorse.
  • It also had called for severe penalties such as jail term for celebrities endorsing brands, publishers/broadcasters of misleading advertisements and manufacturers of such products.

Recommendations of Standing Committee

  • For the first-time offence, offender celebrities should be penalised with either a fine of Rs 10 lakh or imprisonment up to two years or both.
  • For second-time offences, offender celebrities should be penalised with either Rs 50 lakh or imprisonment of five years or both.

What is the issue related to celebrity endorsement?

The issue of accountability of celebrities as brand endorsers was in spotlight after the ban on Nestle India Ltd’s Maggi Noodles over inadequate safety standards and high levels of lead and Monosodium glutamate (MSG). The ban was subsequently lifted. Besides this, some other celebrities, too had faced public ire for endorsing brands that did not meet expectations.

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