Government has initiated a series of steps to strengthen consumer protection mechanism and is also bringing a new comprehensive legislation to address various other issues, including timely delivery of justice, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs CR Chaudhary said. He was addressing the first session of the Inter-governmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Law and Policy during the launch of revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection at Geneva yesterday. "Our government has tabled a new Consumer Protection Bill in Parliament, drawing from the latest and the best global practices.
Through this new legislation, we aim to address the consumer issues in a comprehensive manner offering executive, quasi-judicial and judicial remedies," Chaudhary said in an official statement. The existing Consumer Protection Act-1986 is being replaced by a consumer friendly legislation, with a forward looking approach including protection of consumer's rights while transacting through e-commerce, he added. The minister informed that this bill has been drafted after extensive consultations with stakeholders. "While drafting the Consumer Protection Bill-2015, special emphasis has been made to ensure simplicity, speed, access, affordability and timely delivery of justice," he said. He termed it as a futuristic bill and said that it's a transformative step towards strengthening consumer protection and giving a clear message that 'consumer is the king'. "India is spending about 30-50 million US dollars on consumer protection annually and has initiated a number of consumer centric schemes based on the broad fundamentals of consumer awareness, standard and conformity assessment and inexpensive and quick redressal," Chaudhary said. He highlighted some of the important recent initiatives such as launch of a portal 'Grievance Against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA)' to handle complaints of consumers relating to misleading advertisements, issuance of guidelines on direct selling, online case monitoring system in the Consumer Fora. The e-filing of complaints by consumers in Consumer Fora is under process, the minister informed. Chaudhary said the approach and mechanisms adopted to protect consumers might vary from one country to another, given the unique characteristics prevailing in the different respective economies and financial systems. "Consideration of country-specific circumstances and contextualization is important to evolve relevant and effective consumer protection and education infrastructures. "Individual countries need to customise the consumer protection and education framework to their environment, taking into account factors such as the stage of economic and regulatory development, the structure of the financial system and the level of consumer sophistication," the minister said.
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