SELLING PRICE OF PACKED WATER BOTTLE IN RESTAURANTS /HOTELS

SELLING PRICE OF PACKED WATER BOTTLE IN RESTAURANTS /HOTELS
It often happens that while placing order for consumable food, service boy asks you if you want aqua water or mineral water. Mineral water for them means sealed bottled water. Service boy brings you refrigerated cooled bottle with tumbler for pouring it though do not open for you. Customer often says –how can you charge more than MRP.
Now what is the law on this point is the question

COURTS JUDGMENTS :
The first case on this subject was raised against Satyam Cinema at Janakpuri and investigation revealed that it was charged more than MRP on packed water bottle and hence it was considered unfair trade practice .This issue flare up to the extent that Hotel & Restaurant’s Association went up to Supreme court and it was finally settled with the following terms:
(Law on the issue: Weight &Measurement not applicable Price at which they are to be provided is clearly mentioned on the menu. That is proposal and making order is acceptance)

The question raised in the year 2007 in the case of Federation Of Hotels & Restaurants Association Of India & Ors V/S Union Of India was as to whether it is permissible for the hotel to charge their customers any price above the maximum retail price mentioned on the mineral water bottle .The court held in clear terms that charging price for mineral water in excess of the MRP printed on the packaging it does not constitutes a sale or transfer of the commodity to them .Billing by hotelier/restaurant for service and goods is one and indivisible. It is further elaborated that a customer when enters a hotel or restaurant ,it is not simply to make a purchase of these commodities .His direct purpose of going therein is more than this-it is to enjoy its ambience ,
Again in the year 2009,the same issue came up before the Hon’ble H.C. of Delhi in the case of Delhi Gymkhana Club Ltd V/S Union Of India.Here the issue was about the price printed on the cold drink and objection on charging more than the price printed thereon.It was held that food items and beverages ,packaged or in any other form for the consumption in a comfortable atmosphere of the club not to be treated as sale to the members .Price at which they are to be provided is clearly mentioned on the menu.Hence now settled law is :

1. Eatables consumed under a comfortable atmosphere, enjoying the ambience and other facilities in the hotel, restaurant or in the club cannot be separated for billing for their price Services and other taxes leveled by the Govt.
2. A restaurant provides many services, in addition to the supply of food. He provides furniture and furnishings, linen, crockery and cutlery, and in the eating places of today he may add music and a specially provided area for floor dancing and in some cases a floor show. Once a person enters the hotel/restaurant /club, he orders for the desired item, waiter comes, takes order, serve him on the table. Charges taken for any order include all these facilities whether it is water or a pinch of salt.

3. Buying and selling packed items on the road side or in a shop differs from selling and buying sitting in a restaurant/hotel with ambiance, service facility. Cost shall vary from MRP cost if you are under comfort zone made available to you in a restaurant /hotel /club etc.
4. Even when water bottle is served on the table in sealed condition, it can be charged with more than MRP because of service and ambiance provided to the customer.

5. At times packet of chips, namkeen in packed condition asked by the customer sitting in hotel/restaurant also attracts more prices because customer has asked not to give in plate and give in packed condition for the child for their own convenience.

——————————————————————————————–

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.7/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Consumerism

GLARING COMPLAINTS OF CONSUMERS (CONSUMER COURT FUNCTIONING)

Read more »

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Consumerism

Misleading Ads and responsibility of Celebrity

001

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Consumerism

WHETHER SERVICE TAX CAN BE LEVIED ON FOOD ITEMS UNDER PICK UP/FREE HOME DELIVERY SYSTEM

ISSUE FOR ADVOCACY

WHETHER SERVICE TAX CAN BE LEVIED ON FOOD ITEMS
UNDER PICK UP/FREE HOME DELIVERY SYSTEM

This is an ongoing problem faced by the consumers that they are burdened with number of taxes even when not enjoyed the ambiance of restaurant or hotel etc. This had been an issue raised several times about selling water at premium rates at places such as restaurants, hotels, airports and cinema halls. Public at large is often confused with the rules and regulations formulated by the Government authorities for adhering to MRP system on packed commodities and actual practice of selling .Weight and Measurement Department is to observe and check the compliance of MRP system . Food Safety and Standard Authority has also made rules and regulations in the year 2011 and also revised the same in 2013 for the packaged goods making it compulsory to print MRP and ingredients / the contents of the packed item. The issue of charging more than MRP by the hotels and restaurants was resolved by the Apex court by pronouncing a judgment that hotels and restaurants may charge more because consumer enjoys all ambiances and services also apart from getting food.
But what should be the system when neither consumer is served in the hotel/restaurant nor has enjoyed the ambiance. Can he be levied with service tax or service charges for merely placing order for packed food/pick up food under promise of free home delivery?
Office of Deputy Commissioner ,Central Excise and Service Tax Department got a query dated 22.7.2015 from Apex Restaurant Pvt. Ltd Chandigarh on this issue when consumers resisted to give service tax on free home delivery system .There was a reply/ clarification on the subject on 13.8 2015 as hereunder-
Food items given under free home delivery system is a sale of food and no service is provided, may it be serving food, ambiance of enjoying air cooling, live entertainment, personalized hospitality etc.Hence no service tax is to be imposed on such transaction .
There are further two more things clarified-
• Even while enjoying all air cooling and central heating facility available in the restaurant /hotels, service tax can be charged on food at the rate of 5.6% on the food bill.
• Further, tax can be imposed on 40% of the total food bill and not on the total bill.
But we see day in and day out that restaurants and hotels are charging service tax on all home deliveries. This is an issue must be brought to the knowledge of department concerned to circulate the policy so as to help the consumers for raising their voice against unfair trade practices being followed by the owners of hotels /restaurants and food caterers .

—————————————————————————————————DR PREM LATA

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Consumerism

IMPROPER CARE OF ELEVATORS CAUSING DEATH OF A PERSON (IS IT SERVICE UNDER CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT)

IMPROPER CARE OF ELEVATORS CAUSING DEATH OF A PERSON
(IS IT SERVICE UNDER CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT)
National Commission held ‘YES’ inspite of the fact no consideration was paid by the complainant for any services. This is a case titled P.G.PAI v/s Care Elevators ENGG. Co. Ltd &others wherein National Commission went into details of each party’s role and responsibility towards public at large. Also the interpretation of section 2 (o) of consumer protection act which is inclusive and not exhaustive as held by Hon’ble Supreme Court in number of judgments. ‘Services’ means services of any description which is available to potential users as facilities in connection with other number of services to consumers such as banking ,education,insurance etc. etc.In this judgment,‘includes’word had been the target for the court to elaborate.
Kingfisher Airlines Ltd had office in Bhagwati house in Mumbai having taken on lease The building was being managed by Bhagwati house.The lifts were installed by OTIS Elevator Company and upkeep of lifts was assigned to Care Elevators and ENGG. Co. Ltd.The said lift went out of order on 10.5.2015 and a report in this regard was lodged.with OP-1,Care Elevators.at 10 am. But Roshan Pai entered the lift without knowing about fault,it abruptly moved without closing doors .He got stuck in the lift with his neck and head in side the lift and rest of the body outside the lift. He was declared dead later.
The question here was –
!)Why there was no warning about elevator out of order.
!!)Why inbuilt locking system did not work which prevents lifts to start unless doors are closed
TRIG Security agency ,OP-2 was responsible for putting up notice of warning which was not done in this case and it allowed to happen this incident . Further this fact was also established during the course of proceedings that mechanics of the security agency had also disabled inbuilt locking system of the lift whereas the system was very much there and properly installed by OTIS ,OP-4 .hence no negligence on the par of OTIS found.It was checked in details the provisions of clause 18 of Indian Standards of ElectricTraction Lifts which requiresthat every lending door,shutter,or gate shall be equipped with electro-mechanic lock which shall prevent lift from moving while lending door,shutter or gate is open , there was no allegation against OP-4 OTIS for not providing this system
Hence OP-1,Care Elevators operating agency & TRIG Security agency ,OP-2 security agency were found at fault.and deficient in services.
—————————————————————————————————–

Complainat in this case was father of deceased Rohan Pai who had not paid for the services of maintenance of the lift but some one was paying for the services and it was not free of cost. Providing lift in a multi-story building would amount to providing services to the visitors,employees and permitted persons to the building. Lift is a necessary element for a multi storey building and providing this service as facility is otherwise also an essential facility without which neither the building will get completion certificate nor it would become fit for occupation for effective use.
Hence element of paying consideration for lift services was met by others and visitor was considered potential consumer . TRIG Security agency ,OP-2 OP -1

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Consumerism

NATIONAL CONSUMER DAY WITH A SLOGAN – “SWATCH BHARAT, SWASTH BHARAT

NATIONAL CONSUMER DAY
WITH A SLOGAN – “SWATCH BHARAT, SWASTH BHARAT”
It was a different consumer day than other years celebrated at Vigyan Bhawan on 22nd of December 2015, focusing on health and safety of food emerging into basic question of “swachata”.The past year was full of events with issues of safety, food and health. Seminar started with a note from Secretary, Consumer affairs Shri Vishvanathan announcing 90% disposal of consumer cases and observed presence of a very strong consumer movement in the country. BIS bill passes and Consumer Protection bill already tabled in Lok Sabha pending with Standing Committee and expecting soon light of the day.
Deliberation by Shri Ashish Bahuguna Secretary, FSSAI was unique of its style and wished that people must understand the difference between safety and healthy. Healthy food is the choice of public which cannot be imposed. If someone wants to eat street food under un hygienic conditions, there cannot be any ban on it. But compromising safety norms is an issue concerning State .As far as matter comes under the preview of state, healthy food can be made a first choice. Food to the children in the schools must adhere to the norms of healthy food and junk food can be restricted not by choice but by directions.
On the point of safe food ,generally public at large is allured by the dazzling advertisements and are tempted to buy without checking the label and contents of the packed food and hardly cares whether it is consumable or not. One more very valid point discussed was that even if one looks at the contents of the food ,every one cannot understand how much quantity of the contents is safe for human consumption .Public needs to be educated about it is the duty of the state /authority to fix the parameter as to what falls under the permissible range . Magi matter was the glaring example of the last year events. Shri Ashish Bahuguna also expressed the need to change the law on this point as it cannot be expected everyone to understand the quantum and quality parameters suitable to their health. By stating “how much” will no more serve the purpose?
Another important question discussed in detail was the words used “best before” and “date of expiry”. Date of expiry gives a message that food is not safe after expiry date. But nothing is clear what would be the health hazard due to chemicals in the food if used after best before date. Hence this also needs to be changed for making it more specific. But above all, consumers have to play a bigger role to make India a Swatch Bharat by choosing Swatch Bhojan and hygienic place for eating. Authority is making norms for vendors also to make ‘Swatch Bharat’& Swasth Bharat a successful move in the area of food also.
Further authority has now taken up with food industries and academy for implementing safety and health norms for food manufacturing and consumption of food in academies which is a very innovative move of the time.
Now comes comments from judicial desk, Justice D. K. Jain, President National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission and retired judge of Supreme Court of India. Referring to article. 47 of our constitution ,Justice Jain considered the issue as constitutional question concerning standard of living and importance of health of the citizens of India and the issue falls under directive Principals of State Policy .Food safety act does not provide sufficient provisions for punishment and we find gross violation of food safety and health during the festivals. This remains a news item every year without any improvement in practice. Misleading ads are permanent features because there is no strong body for implementation of even the court orders. Order is complied as far as payment to the aggrieved consumer is concerned, rest of the part of direction to the defaulter for not printing the ads again is neither pressed by the consumer nor Consumer Act gives power to the forum/commission unless execution petition is filed for the same. ‘Conditions apply is the most misguiding phrase used by the industries for promotion of their product
Minister for Consumer affairs Shri Ramvilas Paswan highlighted strange thing about India where it is said, no one can think of food without adulteration whereas all over the world, no one can think of adulteration in food. It is strange but true and this is where we have to start with .Consumer day is to be made a consumer movement. Coming back to our cultural heritage, our Veda’s talk of “Poushtik Bhojan” and “Svadisht Bhojan’ both. Ours is a country which is enriched with one full Veda on Ayurvedic Medicines, health and methods of removing illness through natural resources. This also emphasize on healthy food, methods, style &timing of eating specifying how, when and what food should be eaten. Minister said that its women of the country now to come ahead in front position to take the duty to improve quality of food.
It was a great point .We must not forget that consumer movement in India was first started with ladies in Mumbai who raised their voice against poor quality of products. Now we have to focus on quality of food we are being sold and supplied in the market. We must not forget the contribution of some of the NGO’S specially VOICE who had been delivering to the consumers the regular test reports of various products sold out in the market and are awakening them of the quality and comparative study of products available to them. VOICE must now work rigorously on food items
Swasth Bharat and Swatch Bharat was the slogan of the day.
Dr Prem Lata
————————————————————————————–

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Consumerism

REAL ESTATE REGULATORS AND DEVELOPERS BILL 2016

REAL ESTATE REGULATORS AND DEVELOPERS BILL 2016
(MAIN FEATURES OF THE NEW LAW )
SETTING UP OF REGULATORY BODY
• Establishment of State Real Estate Regulatory Authority for every state for redressal of grievances against any builder made mandatory
• It is to be paired with real estate appellate tribunals (REATS) to consider appeals against orders of RERAS
• Regulatory authorities will have to dispose of complaints within 60 days
• Under the new proposals, additional benches of appellate tribunals can be set up in a state if required for speedy adjudication of grievances.
CONSUMER COURTS NOT BARRED
• Bill allows aggrieved buyers to approach Consumer Courts at the District level, State level or National level as applicable
REGISTRATION WITH AUTHORITY
• Every project measuring more than 500 square metres or more than eight apartments will have to be registered with the RERA.
JURISDICTION
• The Real Estate Regulator shall have the authority to govern real estate transactions in both areas
!) Residential
!!) Commercial
ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVALS OF PROJECT
• A developer will not be able to market any project unless all approvals are in place. Property buyers will be able to check details about a project online
FUNDS UTILIZATION NORMS
• Developer obliged to park 70% of the project funds in a dedicated bank account to ensure that developers are not able to invest in numerous new projects with the proceeds of the booking money for one project.
CARPET AREA DEFINED
• Carpet area has been clearly defined in the law and the current practice of selling on the basis of ambiguous super built-up area for a real estate project will come to a stop as this law makes it illegal.
PROVIDING INFORMATION
• Its mandatory for developers to post all information of project plan, layout, Government approvals, land title status, sub contractors to the project, schedule for completion etc.with the State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and to the consumers& on the regulator’swebsite
COMPLETION AND OCCUPATION CERTIFICATES
• The issuance of completion and occupation certificates from authorities are brought under regulatory supervision along with other permissions
ALTERATION IN PROJECT
• No alteration in project at the free will of the promoters unless the consent of at least two-thirds of the buyers of the project has been obtained.
PENALITIES FOR VOILATION

• The De-Registration of the Project
• 5-10 per cent of the project cost
• Imprisonment of up to three years in case of promoters and up to one year in case of real estate agents and buyers for violation of orders of the appellate tribunals or monetary penalties, or both.
FRAMING OF RULES
• States will have to make rules within six months of notification of the proposed Act
• Allottees shall take possession of houses in two months of issuance of occupancy certificate.
PENALITY FOR DELAY
• The law ensures that any delay in project completion will make the developer liable to pay the same interest as the EMI being paid by the consumer to the bank back to the consumer.
PREVENTION
• Accepting advance payments or application fees of more than 10 per cent of the cost without entering into a written agreement with the buyer is prevented

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Consumerism

RE-LOOK REQUIRED ON INDIAN POSTAL ACT 1898 SAYS APEX CONSUMER COMMISSION

RE-LOOK REQUIRED ON INDIAN POSTAL ACT 1898
SAYS APEX CONSUMER COMMISSION
‘We deem it appropriate to observe that since the Government of the day is keen to repeal all antiquated legislation , a legacy of Colonial Era, its high time to have a re-look at Indian Postal Act 1898,in particular on section 6 therein ,in order to infuse accountability ,competitiveness and efficient governance.’
This was the observations made by the National Commission in a case where entry letter for examination does not reach to a candidate resulting him to miss the exam but none could be held liable because willful act or default or fraud on the part of post office employees could not be proved and employees are protected under section 6 of Indian postal act reads as hereunder-
“the Government shall not incur any liabilityby reasons of loss,misdelivery or delay or damage to and postal article in course of transmission by post ,except in so far as such liability may in express terms be under taken by the central government as herein after provided and no officer of the post office shall incur any liability by reason of any such loss,misdelivery,delay or damage,unless he caused the same fraudulently or by his willful act or default..”
In the case in hand,UPSC at New Delhi dispatched to arun geo Thomas examination hall ticket for taking examination for admission to national defence academy and naval defence academy .the entrence exam was to be held on 18.5.2010 but complaianat received hall ticket only on 11.5.2010with the result he could not take the exam .But when Arun approached consumer forum and consumer commission , State commission as well as National Commission held that onus to prove fraud or willfullact or default on the part of postal department lies on the person who alleges and under the circumstances when it could not be proved with cogent evidence ,postal department enjoys the immunity for any liability in view of section 6 of the indian postal act 1898.
Commission while pronouncing the order further stated –
“…although an antiquated piece of legislation ,dating back to 1898,but as it stands today in 21st century still grants immunity to the postal department”.
————————————————————————————————————————

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Consumerism

SECOND COMPLAINT AFTER FIRST COMPLAINT IS DISMISSED BEFORE THE CONSUMER FORUM IS PERMITTED SAYS SUPREME COURT

SECOND COMPLAINT AFTER FIRST COMPLAINT IS DISMISSED BEFORE THE CONSUMER FORUM IS PERMITTED SAYS SUPREME COURT

Rule of prohibition contained in Order 9 Rule 9(1) of CPC cannot be extended to proceedings before District Forum or State Commission.This is because civil procedure code is not applicable to consumer forums except for a few provisions permitted under sction13 (2) of the act. Hence it is held by the apex court that second complaint maintainable when first complaint was dismissed in default for non-prosecution.
This order is passed in the matter of Indian Machinery Company V/S Ansal Housing & Construction Company which had come before the Supreme Court civil appeal no 557 of 2016 decided on 17.1.2016.
This was the case which had come in revision before the National Commission in the matter between Ansal Housing And Construction Ltd V/S Indian Machinery Company against the order 22.03.22013 from Delhi State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission FA No 800/2009. Complainant stated before the National Commission that the complaint earlier filed before the forum was dismissed on 29.8.2007 because of non –appearance. It was further submitted to consider earlier complaint no 307/2007 as part and parcel of this case for the sake of documents attached and proceed this case from the stage the earlier complaint had been dismissed.
The first question before the commission was to decide whether second complaint on the same fact can be maintained under he given circumstances.It was held that there is no provision in the law for second complaint on the same facts once it is dismissed in default.
The same matter has now come before the supreme court and it is held by the Apex court:
Relied upon the case of New India Assurance Co.V R.Srinivasan and is of the view that :
1. There is no provision of filing complaint for the same cause on the same issue once complaint has been dismissed in default for non-prosecution but at the same time there is no prohibition also for the same in the consumer protection act 1986.
2. The prohibition clause of order 9 rule 9 is not applicable to consumer matter as consumer forums follow summery procedure and not CPC
3. Apex court in number of cases has directed that interpretation of clauses should be made looking into the purpose of law and consumer protection act being consumer welfare act,consumer should not be deprived of natural justice.
4. Rules 15(6) made by National commission do not prohibit second complaint if dismissed in default.
Dr Prem Lata

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Consumerism

E- COMMERCE AND CONSUMER LAW

E- COMMERCE AND CONSUMER LAW
E-Commerce in India brought a leading change in the life style of Indian consumer with the entry of on line retailer Amazon and online auctioneer e Bay in late 1990’s.Thereafter innovative steps were initiated by the business groups to go further with their business promotion by making use of web for advertising their products .The scenario further changed with the use of social networking which brought a remarkable flow of online purchases after the year 2006.The picture as on date is that number of modes are in operation for on line purchases through out the country.
WHAT IS E-COMMERCE
Anita Rosen from an American management association in her book on e-commerce explains e-commerce as a practice of purchasing and selling products and services over the internet or other electronic system .Electronic commerce or e commerce refers to on line business activities. It also pertains to any form of business transactions in which parties are not physically present and interact electronically. .Digital information technology is the mode of communication in such business. The World Trade Organization on September 25th1998 had adopted a broad view of electronic commerce as ‘the production, distribution, marketing, sale or delivery of goods and services by electronic means – (By Mitchel Andrew.D)
Individuals connecting to the web is the first important factor / mode of access for the consumer to the market which has increased E-Commerce five fold after 1990’s in india.The new breakthrough in the traditional way of business has completely changed the traditional business of trading patterns. Broadband and growing use of mobile devices is another reason facilitating the general public at large to opt for net marketing. The presence of e –retailer such as Amazon and Bricks and Mortar, is another important factor influencing e commerce activities.Consumers are equipped with a powerful tool for searching and buying goods and services.Increased competition leads to lower price,more choices of products and convenience of shopping from vendors located around the world.It is an ease and speed shopping. And now we see consumers are able to shop or conduct their transactions 24 hours a day and also track the delivery status of their purchase .Comparing prices is a great benefit .
But now the question before is as to whether existing law concerning consumers are adequate for consumer safety,information option,fair trade rights ,claims and other rights.
WE may refer here to The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, who had set model guidelines on consumer protection which were adopted by the General Assembly in 1985 recognizing the need for protection of the rights of consumers. With the change of scenario today United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has undertaken a revision of the UNGCP. Consumers International, an international consumer rights organization has along with CIS and other groups been trying to represent the voice of consumers. Consumers International has produced a book titled “Updating the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection for Consumers in the Digital Age
In December 2012 there was a news report that the market for online commerce in India is at roughly USD 14 billion. , Flipkart alone had a valuation of around USD 800 million. Such huge numbers give a sneak peek into the size and scope of the Indian e-commerce market place which begs the question- when there are so many transactions occurring in the online marketplace and since a large number of those transactions are between retailers and domestic consumers, are there any specific laws out there protecting the interests of consumers in the online world.
CAG (Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group) also focused on this issue to see if the websites were consumer friendly and also to see if there were adequate laws and redressal mechanisms in India to protect consumers shopping online. CAG, took a study, ‘E-commerce and Consumer Protection in India’ in 2002, to look at e-trading websites and how consumer friendly they were. In 2006, CAG conducted a follow up study ‘Protecting consumer rights in e-commerce transactions’ to look at laws and redressal mechanisms available to consumers. This study brought to light a number of issues such as privacy of information, provision of contract terms such as guarantees/warrantees, refunds, dispute settlement, hidden costs and misleading information and other problems.
Addressing the audience at a seminar on ‘E-Commerce And The Consumer Responsibilities and Rights’ organized by the Consumers Association of India, Secretary, Ministry Of Consumer Affairs Sh. Desurajuhe said it is essential to create a policy framework and regulatory environment that favours the development of e-commerce and ensures protection of consumers.
Experts say the Consumer Protection Act 1986 does not have any specific law to regulate online transactions. S Gopalakrishnan, Commissioner, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, Government of Tamil Nadu, too reiterated the need to amend the act suitably so that it takes within its jurisdiction all kinds of consumer transactions, as each situation needs a different set of tools to handle.He also highlighted the need to amend the Information Technology Act to prevent misuse of any personal information, and also to reduce the existing information irregularity
CEO Akosha, Ankur Singla, revealed that out of the 11980 complaints received by Akosha for e-commerce in the first quarter of 2013, almost 58 percent related to deficiency in delivery (such as delivery of damaged goods, delivery of a different product or non-delivery of goods, even after the payment has been made), 29 percent were for refund of money for non-satisfactory products, while the rest had different concerns.
Hence this is the issue specifically being considered in forthcoming Amendment to the Consumer Protection Act.
AVAILABLE LAWS
REGARDING TRANSACTION ON NET AND ITS RECOGNISION
Information Technology Act, 2000 has done a big deal in giving recognition to online purchases. Reserve Bank of India by issuing various circulars regarding online banking and money transfer activities have made consumers capable of securing the online space. It’s true that as a whole, there are no specific laws that seek to protect consumers in the online space. However, that does not necessarily mean that the consumers are left without any recourse and in this regard we shall examine whether it is possible to use the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 to protect consumer rights in the online environment as well.
While looking into the present frame work of Consumer Protection Act, we find enough scope to make use of this law with the same strength as is done purchases in physical presence with a little careful dealing.
• VALIDITY OF E-CONTRACTS –Electronic contracts are governed by the basic principles provided in the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (“ICA”), Section 10A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”) provides validity to e-contracts The Supreme Court in Trimex International FZE Ltd. Dubai v. Vedanta Aluminum Ltd. has held that e-mails exchanges between parties regarding mutual obligations constitute a contract.
• JURISDICTION POINT The other crucial issue is the consent and the way offers are accepted in an online environment. In a click wrap and shrink wrap contract, the customers do not have any opportunity to negotiate the terms and conditions and they simply have to accept the contract as is offered to them before commencing to purchase. Section 16(3) of the ICA provides that where a person proposes certain terms to the other and other part accepts the same by clicking on it, is bound by all the terms so proposed by the proposer. It is said and argued by some groups that under these online environments, party offering is in a position to dominate the will of another, and the transaction appears on the face of it to be unconscionable. Hence this is a disadvantageous position of a person who accepts. But we must not forget that the basic principal of contract act is that acceptance should be unconditional even if both the parties are present face to face. So it hardly makes any difference as far as acceptance of proposal is concerned. One can always avoid clicking if not satisfied. The only point while dealing the matter under Consumer Protection Act shall have to be decided is the jurisdiction of the court keeping in view the question –where the cause of action arises. In net purchasing, since proposal and acceptances are made on computer sitting at their places, jurisdiction at both the places has been considered by the forums /commissions under Consumer Protection Act as practiced by now and supported by various judgments too. Hence consumers can easily reach to consumer forums in cases of default on the part of seller or service provider.
• DATA PROTECTION: Security of the information provided during the online transaction is a major concern. Under section 43A of the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, the intermediaries have the obligation to publish the rules and regulations, privacy policy and user agreement for access or usage of the intermediary’s computer resource by any person. Such rules and regulations must inform the users of computer, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share information. Also, the intermediary must not knowingly host or publish any prohibited information and if done, should remove them within 36 hours of its knowledge. In Consim Info Pvt. Ltd v. Google India Pvt. Ltd, the Delhi Court Google had extended the argument that being search engine, they cannot control the fact whether some website, any advertisement given on their site is genuine or fraud. The court then observed that though the intermediary, Google, cannot be made liable for infringement arising out of a third party’s actions since it is not possible to always check every advertisement posted online; however, it was said that as per section 3(4) of the aforesaid Intermediaries Guidelines, Google had to act upon it within 36 hours of receipt of such complaint, failing which it may be held liable.
This issue is also in no way different from the issues time and again raised by the public at large in other than e-commerce when their phone numbers are given by banks etc. for tale marketing and other unwanted calls and SMS from business groups. This issue can very well be handled alleging the wrong doer for deficiency in services and unfair trade practices under Consumer Protection Act.
• STAMPING OF CONTRACTS is yet another issue. An instrument that is not appropriately stamped may not be admissible as evidence unless the necessary stamp duty along with the penalty has been paid. However, as the payment of stamp duty has gone online and e-stamp papers are available, it can become a possibility that stamp duty might be asked on e-contracts as well
• ADVERTISING: Advertising is an important and legitimate means for a seller to awaken interest in his products. Absence of a single comprehensive legislation in terms of a proper code to follow by the industry and the authority to regulate or guide the pattern of advertising is till date a problem. In 1985, the Advertising Standards Council of India (“ASCI”), a non statutory body, was established that created a self regulatory mechanism of ensuring ethical advertising practices. ASCI entertained and disposed of complaints based on its Code of Advertising Practice (“ASCI Code”).But this does not have authority to punish anyone .Amendment in the consumer protection act 2002 had added a clause unfair trade practice which is specifically meant for misleading ads and works well on e-commerce purchases also .
While Consumer Protection Act 1986 is already on way to be amended suitably after earlier three amendments, Consumer is also bound to take adequate care while dealing with net and making purchases on line in his own interest .
DUTY OF A CONSUMER WHILE DEALING ON WITH E COMMERCE
1. TO GET INFORMATIONABOUT THE COMPANY: What kind of business it is and what it sells. Where the company is located, including the country. How the company can be contacted.
2. FIND OUT WHAT THE E-MERCHANT’S PRIVACY POLICY is Use your credit card rather than your debit card to make your e-transaction. Find out what the e-merchant return and refund policies, before placing any orders.
3. KEEP YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION PRIVATE. Do not disclose your address, telephone number, social security number, or your e-mail address unless you know who is collecting the information and how it will be used.
4. SHOP ONLY WITH KNOWN E-MERCHANTS and always use a secure browser. Make sure that your browser complies with the industry security standards; anyone can set up a Web site offering something for sale. If you are not familiar with the e-merchant, ask that you be sent a paper catalog or brochure to get a better idea of the type of merchandise the company offers.
5. REVIEW YOUR MONTHLY BANK AND CREDIT CARD statement promptly and thoroughly in order to find and billing errors, or unauthorized charges or withdrawals
Dr Prem Lata

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.1/10 (10 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
Consumerism