The government is planning to bring amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 giving it “more teeth,” in the upcoming Budget Session of Parliament, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said.
“Government is proposing to amend the Consumer Protection Act as there are so many issues... We want to give more teeth to the consumer laws,” he told reporters here last evening.
The matter will be placed before Cabinet and it is expected that new laws will be in place this year, the minister said.
“We have written to the state governments also. If there is a consensus, it can be passed this year itself,” Paswan added.
A Consumer Interest Protection Authority is being planned which will be delegated with punitive powers. The authority will have the powers to suo motu launch proceedings.
As per the present setup there are three levels of courts — district, state and national level — to look into consumers issues. This causes lot of delays.
“We are trying to simplify the proceedings, trying to make the process easy by having no revocations”.
There are also plans to have a National Common Market system which will fix a uniform price for essential food articles.
Giving an example, the minister said there is “mandi” system in Punjab where farmers have no choice, but to go through the system.
To prevent hoarding, stringent measures including upto one year imprisonment and making it a non-bailable offence was being planned, Paswan said.
Paswan, who reviewed the functioning of Central Warehousing Corporation and Food Corporation of India and Bureau of Indian Standards in Kerala, here last night, said “the Centre had accepted the state's plea for granting one lakh metric tonne capacity space from FCI godowns and by March 31 we will be handing it over in nine places. The Central Warehousing Corporation also will be giving 15,000 tonne space to the state, he said. On the state's plea for more food grains beyond the allocated 14.2 lakh tonnes, he said the Centre was willing to increase it to 16 lakh tonnes, but it would incur additional charges. The state government had assured that by March 31, it would implement the Food Security Act, he said.
The capacity of the state government godowns was 90,000 mt and the government had wanted one lakh tonnes capacity from FCI godowns.