Dr. Mukund Sarda, Principal, New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune, recently opined that the e-commerce websites and other online applications should also be covered under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. He said that the advent of the online shopping portals and increased use of mobile applications have given rise to a new category of complaints and consumer issues. These must be considered in the CP Act. Consumers are often left confused whenever they intend to file a complaint against e-commerce retailer as there is a huge confusion as to against whom should the complaint be made, the dispatcher or the provider.
Recently, a few amendments in the CP Act have also been proposed to the Union Cabinet committee. In this regard, Dr. Mukund Sarda organized a symposium on consumer policies in the campus. Present at this event were Maharashtra state commission judicial member S A Kulkarni, Pune district forum president V P Utpat, senior lawyer S K Jain, President of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Justice DK Jain and other eminent personalities.
If the amends are improved, then the district consumer forums and state commissions will get suo motu powers to initiate cases in the matters that affect a large number of consumers. This would involve the power to recall and review orders, improved financial jurisdiction, facilitating mediation and changes in recruitment procedures for judicial members.
A greater stress would be laid on promoting mediation as an alternative dispute solving mechanism. District forums and State commissions would have an increased pecuniary jurisdiction, raised from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 50 lakh.
Justice D K Jain said that a full draft of the amended CP Act is presently before the Union Cabinet Committee. It will perhaps reshape the entire CP Act instead of making a few tweaks.