Online Retailers to Come Under Consumer Protection Law

After receiving several complaints against online retailers in India for alleged unfair practices, the consumer affairs department has moved a cabinet proposal to bring such companies under the Consumer Protection Law. The issue comes on heels after the Union Food Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan’s recent statement, “There was need to inform online shoppers in India about their rights and how to find legal recourse for their complaints.”

As per Trak.in report, in the cabinet note, a proposal has been made to set up Consumer Protection Authority that will lookout for marketing of products that are “unsafe and hazardous”. There will be provisions for product liability actions, for ‘unfair contract’ to protect consumers placed in an unequal bargaining capacity.

The committee will act as an independent body that will also have the responsibility of informing consumers about the quality, purity, standard, misleading and deceptive advertisements by sellers. Also, committee’s powers will extend to:

  1. Conducting investigation
  2. Conducting searches
  3. Seizing documents, articles and records, etc both suo moto and on complaint
  4. Right to summon negligent and guilty online sellers
  5. Order withdrawal of false or misleading advertisements
  6. Order recall of unsafe or hazardous products
  7. Issuing safety notices and
  8. Imposing fines if found guilty of violating the law.

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Looking at the growth of online retail in the country, it is important to consider it as a mainstream business as well. The business opportunity for retailers selling online and going online is rich. In such a situation it is necessary to protect the consumers as well against the undefined practices adopted online, hence this cabinet proposal should come as a benefit for the consumers in India.

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