Aim to strengthen 5 pillars of Consumer Rights: Awareness, Choice, Quality, Grievance Redressal, & Feedback- Piyush Goyal

New Delhi : The Department of Consumer Affairs celebrated the National Consumer Day 2021 with the theme “Consumer – Know your Rights” here today.

The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Textiles and Commerce & Industry Shri Piyush Goyal inaugurated the event by releasing e-books and flagging National Test House (NTH) Mobile Van for Drinking Water Testing.

The Union Minister of State for Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution & Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey also participated in the event.

In his inaugural address, Shri Goyal emphasized on Protection of Consumer Rights and ensuring Quality to Consumers. “Under leadership of Prime Minister, following the mantra of ‘Consumer is King’, we have transitioned from ‘Consumer Protection’ to ‘Consumer Empowerment & Prosperity’, he said adding on that the consumers should demand good quality and should demand for protection of their rights.

He said that since ancient times, Consumer protection has been an integral part of the governance.  “Tomorrow (December 25) is the birthday of former PM, late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee which is also observed as the Good Governance Day. When we talk of Good Governance, the consumers-which includes 135 crore citizens are driving “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” by being ‘Vocal for Local’,” he said.

He mentioned that the he demand by consumers for high quality products have spurred Indian companies to be bigger & better and the focus of the companies should be on quality. He said, “India should take lead in One Nation One Standard,” emphasizing that Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is already working on standard setting and ensuring quality standards for consumers.

He added that it’s a myth that quality means high price of the product. “I know that good quality means good manufacturing practices which lowers rejection rate and increases demand which in turn increase scale of operation,” he said.

He stressed on simplifying procedures of filing complaints thereby ensuring time-bound redressal of the complaints. “By bringing stakeholders under one roof, the Hallmarking and Essaying was simplified. Similar steps should be taken,” he added.

He said that the Centre has set the tone for a more strong & vibrant consumer regime with 5 major initiatives: Direct Selling Rules, Mediation Rules, Misleading Advt Guidelines, etc. LM (Packaged Commodities) Rules which provides easy price comparison of commodities. There’s proposed Decriminalisation   of LM   Act    to protect consumer interest & reduce harassment, E-commerce Rules to protect interest of consumers, Hallmarking has provided consumers   with long-due right to Quality, Purity & transparency and lastly Focus on Quality.

The Union Minister said that E-Daakhil Portal has facilitated online filing of complaint by providing a hassle-free, speedy and inexpensive facility to consumers around the country to conveniently approach the relevant consumer Commissions, dispensing the need to travel and be physically present to file their grievance. E-Daakhil has been especially instrumental during the Covid-19 pandemic when movement and travel was restricted in view of health concerns. Today 544 Consumers Commissions are equipped with efiling facilities across the country and more than 11000 cases have been filed online

He said that “Under PM’s leadership, drinking water is being supplied to each household. This increases our responsibility. On the lines of Mobile Van flagged today for Drinking Water Testing, BIS and NTH can take charge of the testing and provide such a facility in each district. Later, drinking water testing facility may be provided in at least 10,000 places,” he said.

He requested traders and manufacturers to support in the implementation of Quality Control Order (QCO) esp in key household goods like Helmets, Pressure cookers and Cooking gas cylinders.

Three E-Books namely, Landmark Judgments on Consumer Law and Practice, Handbook on Mediation under Consumer Protection Act 2019 and Handbook on E-filing before Consumer Redressal Commission were virtually inaugurated.

The Union Minister of State for Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution & Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey in his key note address stressed on the significance of consumer rights.

Shri Choubey in his keynote address observed that the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has widened the platform for consumers to assert and enforce their rights in case of violation. Along with the existing three tier dispute resolution mechanism through consumer commissions, the Central Consumer Protection Authority has been established to regulate matters relating to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements prejudicial to the interest of public and to promote and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.

The Minister highlighted the remarkable strides made by the Legal Metrology Department by taking strong enforcement measures. He appreciated the enterprising effort taken by the department over the past year wherein 255 cases were registered under the LM Act, 2009 and 80 companies compounded their offences collecting a total of Rs. 43,55,500 from such compounding.

The Department has bagged some remarkable achievements like measures taken to enhance consumer grievance redressal mechanism. This includes:

•        Expansion of E-Daakhil facility across 11 more states/UTs in the last one year.  Now, the total number of States/UTs having the facility is 23.

•        Added Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Digital Payments and Cyber Crime published on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) portal to alert consumers against such activities.

•        Added the Helpline number of the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal i.e., 155260 on the NCH portal for filing grievances relating to financial cyber frauds.

•        BIS Care Mobile App – Empowering consumers to verify authenticity of standard mark on products, Checking details like name & address of manufacturer, validity of license etc. Registration of grievances / complaints on sub-standard quality of standard marked products, misuse of mark etc.

Meanwhile, measures are also taken in the interest of consumer welfare for prevention of unfair trade practices such as:

•        Hallmarking has been made mandatory in 256 districts of the country w.e.f. 23 June 2021. Registration fees of jewelers has been completely waived-off and registration once done is now valid for lifetime. As on 20 December 2021, 1,30,432 jewellers have taken a registration from BIS for selling gold hallmarked jewellery and artefacts while 987 BIS recognized assaying and hallmarking centers are operative in the country.

•        Guidelines have been approved for setting up of offsite Hallmarking centres in deficient districts by Assaying and Hallmarking Centres which are hallmarking more than 500 articles per day.

•        Provision is being made for allowing consumers to get the unhallmarked gold lying with him tested by a BIS recognised Assaying and Hallmarking Centre with test report to be accepted by the jewellers.

•        Provision is being made in BIS Care app wherein a consumer after entering HUID can view the details of hallmarked article such as type of jewellery, purity, name of AHC, name of jeweller, date of hallmarking, etc.

•        Inauguration of Regional Reference Standard Laboratory (RRSL), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh). The new RRSL at Varanasi is expected to facilitate all round development by the introduction of metrology services to the region. With the accurate measurement during the production process, the efficiency in the production esp in exports shall be greatly improved and enhanced.

•        Inauguration of Packaged Drinking Water Test Facility at National Test House, Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh). With the inauguration of 2 equipment, Ultra High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph (UHPLC) & Ion Chromatograph (IC), NTH-Ghaziabad has added a quality testing facility for water. UHPLC is helpful for quantification of different organic compounds esp. residual pesticides in water samples.

•        Digitization of four services of Legal Metrology through the portal lm.doca.gov.in. This has allowed the applicant to apply online for these applications which have reduced the timeline for application and hassles of sending application by post and receiving the certificates though post.

•        National Test House (NTH) carried out testing of Packaged Drinking Water for consumers & various manufacturers. Water sample testing was done at various locations especially in rural areas using Mobile Drinking Water Testing Van. Also, Testing was done of samples related to appliances such as Gas stoves, Domestic Pressure Cookers & Non-stick cookware.

•        NTH created a “Toy Testing Facility” for ensuring that the toys are safe for children and its practice is the primary essence of ‘TOY TESTING”

•        NTH also carried on testing of the following items for consumers and various manufacturers – Infra Structural items, Building Materials such as TMT Bar, Cement, Concrete mix materials, Wood, Electrical Appliances such as Switchgear, MCBs, LED & CFL lamps, Electrical cables, Edible Oils, Beverages, Spices, Food processing items, Food Grains etc. for consumers & various manufacturers, Daily use Plastic Products, Paper & Paper products, Safety Boots & Textile products such as cloths.

•        BIS has digitalized the Product Certification activities through ‘manakonline’. Further, Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) has been implemented to automate the entire work-flow of BIS laboratories.

•        During 2020-21, 624 new standards have been formulated, 474 standards have been revised and 3484 standards have been reviewed. 89 standards have been formulated in Service Sector.

•        Standardization activities have been migrated to digital platform to promote greater efficiency, speed, skill and scale. Indian Standards are available free of cost in downloadable version for non-commercial purposes.

•        ‘One Nation One Standard’ scheme for recognition of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs). RDSO has been granted first recognition under this scheme.

•        Standardization Cells have been created in Central and State Government Departments and Industry Associations. So far, 80 Cells have been created.

•        381 products have been notified under Compulsory Certification of BIS (ISI Mark) through QCOs issued by various Ministries/ Departments. Out of these. 41 QCOs issued during 2020-21.

•        More than 730 products brought under Simplified Procedure, manufacturers of these products can obtain licence within a month. Additional concession in minimum marking fee provided for Start-Ups, Women Entrepreneurs and Micro Scale Units.

In addition, measures are also taken for consumer outreach through:

•        Dissemination of audio/visual/still creatives through Social media handles and website of the Department in Audio/video section, State Government machinery and Panchayati Raj Institutions

•        Engagement with MyGov for carrying out survey, competitions and wider  circulation of consumer awareness material. Government of India Programmes/State Government Programmes like Virtual stall at virtual exhibition for Bharat Parv 2021, publicity on tickets and banners at India International Trade Fair, etc

•        Animated videos disseminated through social media, Departmental website and State Controllers of Legal Metrology.

•        Videos on Consumer Protection Act, 2019 shared with VCOs registered in Consumer Welfare Fund for dissemination

•        NCH and e-Daakhil success stories shared on social media, Dept website.

•        Messages on consumer awareness being displayed through CSCs in Scheduled Caste and Tribal dominated areas and NER.

•        Scrolls on CP Act, BIS, Hallmarking of gold were displayed on DD News and DD Kisan.

•        IRCTC is displaying messages on daily ticket confirmation / cancellation mails, e-tickets and Banner Train List Top relating to Hallmarking of gold jewellery, National Consumer Helpline, e-Daakhil, etc.

•        Survey on Jago Grahak Jago was conducted through MyGov from 4th August to 4th September, 2021. Of these, *93.71% had heard about ‘Jago Grahak Jago’ 89.67% think that “Jago Grahak Jago’ aptly describes the mission to spread consumer awareness. *As per the survey, best media to carry out the campaign are social media and television.

Following the inaugural event, technical session was organized in which Consumer Protection and Misleading Advertisement in light of Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the way forward and New Initiatives in Legal Metrology Act, 2009 were discussed.

Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Ms. Leena Nandan, Additional Secretary Ms. Nidhi Khare, Joint Secretary Sh. Anumpam Mishra and Sh. Vineet Mathur were attended the event along with other senior officers, Presidents and Members of Consumer Commissions, stakeholders from States/UTs, industry associations and consumer organizations.