CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019 (Syllabus GS Paper 3 – Economy)

News-CRUX-10     21st May 2024        
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Context: The Supreme Court recently ruled that lawyers, as professionals, are exempt from legal proceedings for faulty services under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, echoing its decision nearly 30 years ago for the medical profession.

Supreme Court Judgement

  • Indian Medical Association vs V P Shantha (1995): Supreme Court ruled that medical professionals provide a "service" as defined in the older Consumer Protection Act (CPA), making them liable to be sued in consumer court for faulty service.
  • Skilled Professional Work: In 1995, the court recognized that professional occupations, such as those in medicine, often involve "skilled" work requiring "mental rather than manual" effort, differentiating them from other occupations.
  • Duties Owed by Doctors to Patients: The court held that doctors owe specific duties to their patients, including deciding whether to treat the patient, determining the appropriate treatment, and how the treatment is administered.
  • Liability for Breach of Duty: If a doctor fails to exercise a "reasonable degree of care" and breaches one of these duties, they can be held liable for a deficiency in service.
  • Supreme Court's 2024: Supreme Court appeared more sympathetic to the notion that medical practitioners, as "professionals", should not be held to the same standard as other occupations.
  • Purpose of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA): The Bench held that the CPA's purpose was to protect consumers from "unfair trade practices and unethical business practices," and the legislature never intended to include professionals within the Act's purview.

Consumer Protection Act, 2019

  • Replacement: The Consumer Protection Act 2019 replaces the more than three decades old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
  • Establishment: The new Act, 2019 came into force on 20th July 2020.
  • Empowerment of Consumers: The Act aims to empower consumers and protect their rights through various notified rules and provisions.
  • Product liability: It means the responsibility of a product manufacturer or product seller, of any product or service, to compensate for any harm caused to a consumer by such defective product manufactured or sold or by deficiency in services relating thereto
  • Definition of a Consumer: A consumer is defined as a person who buys any good or avails a service for a consideration.

oThe definition does not include a person who obtains a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purposes.

  • Six Consumer Rights: Right to Safety, Right to be Informed, Right to Choose, Right to be Heard, Right to Seek Redressal, and Right to Consumer Education.
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