A draft bill aimed at strengthening consumer rights provides for a powerful new tool called class-action suits, which can be invoked to recall an entire batch of faulty products based on a single complaint.
These are among new measures in the draft bill being vetted by an inter-ministerial panel to bring consumer laws in line with a rapidly evolving economy.
If one lot of a consumer item, such as mobile phones, has a common defect, a single complaint can trigger a recall of the whole range by invoking “class action”. Class-action suits, a legal tool, enable one individual complaint of a faulty product or service to be treated as an “interest group” of other people in similar circumstances.
India has witnessed mass product recall, such as faulty cars, but it has been mostly voluntary. The new bill will provide class-action suits specifically as a consumer right.
The draft seeks to punish celebrities who endorse dubious products or appear in ads that make trumped-up claims. It proposes a fine of Rs 10 lakh and jail of up to two years for a first offence by celebrities. For subsequent offences, the proposed fine is Rs 50 lakh and maximum five years in jail.
The bill provides for a National Consumer Authority, which will act as a regulator to ensure compliance with the new provisions.