Legal Current Affairs

Summary of latest bill and acts passed or pending in 2019 in Parliament of India with their salient features and issues for Current Affairs 2019 preparation for various examinations such as UPSC, SSC, State Civil Services, CLAT, Judicial Services etc.

Consumer Protection Act, 2019 comes into force; Covers E-Commerce as well

On July 20, 2020, Consumer Protection Act, 2019 came into force. The act will empower consumers, help them to protect their rights through its provisions such as Consumer Protection Council and Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission.

The act replaces Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Highlights

Under the act, the Central Consumer Protection Authority has been empowered to conduct investigations on violation of consumer rights, order recall of unsafe goods, misleading advertisements, impose penalties on endorsers, publishers or manufacturers, etc. The Central Consumer Protection Authority was constituted under Section 10(1) of Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Advertisement Regulation

Advertisement Regulation is one of the major features of Consumer Protection Act, 2019. Several countries such as UK, Belgium and Ireland have banned celebrity endorsement for unhealthy foods.

Under Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the celebrities can be fined up to Rs 10 lakhs for promoting misleading products. Strict Actions shall be taken against advertisers for generating misleading content. However, no action can be taken against the media through which the advertisement is being published.

Six Consumer rights Defined

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 defined six major consumer rights as follows

  • Right to be protected against marketing goods and services that are hazardous to life and property.
  • Right to be informed about the quantity, quality, standard, purity and price of goods and services.
  • Right to be assured to access variety if goods at competitive prices
  • Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices
  • Right to sue the celebrity for misleading endorsements
  • Right to claim product liability action under the act on account of harm caused to consumers due to defective products.

Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission

A consumer can file a complaint with Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in relation to the following

  • Unfair or restrictive trade practices
  • Overcharging or Deceptive Charging
  • Defective goods or services
  • Offering of goods and services for sale that may be hazardous to life and safety.

Key Features

The salient features of the act are as follows

  • Central Consumer Protection Authority
  • Consumer Protection Councils
  • Simplified Dispute Resolution processes
  • Product Liability
  • Mediation
  • Rules on E-Commerce and direct selling
  • Penalty for adulteration of products or spurious goods.

E-Commerce

The act makes it mandatory for the E-Commerce entities to acknowledge the receipt of consumer complaints within 48 hours. Also, they have to redress the complaint within one month from the date of receipt.

Authority of Advance Ruling: Alcohol based hand sanitizer to attract 18% GST

On July 14, 2020, the Goa Bench of GST Authority of Advance Ruling (AAR) pronounced that alcohol-based sanitizers will attract 18% GST.

Highlights

The Springfields Distilleries had moved to Goa AAR over the GST rates and the classification of hand sanitizers as essential commodity. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs had recently classified hand sanitizers as essential commodity.

Essential Commodity

Essential Commodity are goods that are considered essential to maintain a minimum acceptable standard of living.

Essential Commodity Act

Essential commodity Act was enacted in 1955 to ensure delivery of certain products and commodities. These products are those whose supply when obstructed would affect normal life of the people.

The list of commodities under the law include fertilizers, drugs, edible oils, petroleum and petroleum products. Under the law, the centre can include new commodities as when needed. Currently there are 9 commodities included. They are

  • Fertilizers-Organic, Inorganic and mixed
  • Food items (including edible oils)
  • Seeds of food crops and seeds of fruits and vegetables
  • Face Masks
  • Hand Sanitizers
  • Drugs
  • Petroleum and petroleum products
  • Raw jute and jute textiles

Proposed Amendment

In May 2020, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman had announced that the act is to be amended. According to the proposed amendment, the stock limit under the act will be imposed only under exceptional circumstances such as calamities and famine. Other proposed amendments

  • There will be no stock limit for supply chain owners
  • Deregulation of agricultural produce such as onion, pulses, potato and cereals.

What is the issue?

By declaring a commodity as essential the Government of India can control production, supply and distribution of the commodity and also impose stock limit. Thus, this will affect the businesses that are reliant on such commodities. Thus, the private firm had filed a case with Goa AAR.

Authority for Advance Ruling

The AAR helps businesses plan their activities that are liable for payment of GST.