Govt introduces bill to promote quality of consumer products and services

13 February 2016

The government has introduced the Bureau of Indian Standards Bill, 2015 in Parliament, to replace the 29 year-old BIS Act, and ensure quality of products and services for common consumer. The new bill has been approved by the Lok Sabha.

The new bill provides for a simpler self-certification mechanism, mandatory hallmarking, and product recall and product liability for better compliance to standards.

The bill proposes a simplified conformity assessment schemes, including self- certification and market surveillance, instead of inspectors visiting factories, thereby ending the inspector raj on standards and improving ''ease of doing business.''

New provisions proposed are intended to promote harmonious development of standardisation activities, enabling the government to bring mandatory certifications regime for goods or service considered vital from viewpoint of health, safety, environment, and prevention of deceptive practices.

The bill has provision to prevent import of below par products, providing mandatory hallmarking of precious metal articles, increased scope of conformity assessment, and enhancement of penalties and implication are the important provisions in the Act. The new bill has also made increased penal provisions for better and more effective compliance and compounding of offence for violations.

It also provides for recall, including product liability of products not conforming to relevant Indian standards.

The bill mandates registration of manufacturers of electronic products to safeguard consumer / industry against sub-standard imports.

Under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, steps have been taken to formulate/upgrade standards on potable water, street food and garbage disposal.

Consumer Protection Bill 2015, which seeks to simplify and strengthen consumer grievance redressal procedure, provides for setting up of a Central Protection Authority, which will have powers to recall products and initiate class suit against defaulting companies, including e-retailers proposed. e-filing and time bound admission of complaints in consumer courts is another important provision made in the bill.

The government adopted six points joint action plan for consumer awareness and protection. This will include:

  • Jointly developing and implementing industry standard for grievance redressal;
  • All members of the industry associations to partner with the National Consumer Helpline and state consumer helplines;
  • Launching of joint awareness campaigns;
  • Earmarking of CSR funds for consumer welfare activities;
  • Developing a self-regulation code; and
  • Action against fake, sub-standard, counterfeit products.

This would be launched on the World Consumer rights day on 15 March this year.

The government also plans to organise joint campaign with heath, financial services and other departments for greater consumer awareness. During the year the department of consumer affairs intensified its multimedia campaign under the banner of Jago Grahak Jago, with special emphasis on rural area.

An inter-ministerial monitoring committee constituted for key sectors that matters to consumers, viz, agriculture, food, healthcare, housing, financial services and transport, to facilitate policy coherence and coordinated action on consumer.

To tackle the menace of misleading advertisement, a dedicated portal has been launched. It enables consumers to register their grievances against misleading advertisements in six key sectors, viz, food and agriculture, heath, education, real estate, transport and financial services. The complaints lodged are taken up with the relevant authorities or the sector regulators and the consumer is informed after the action taken.

To provide a host of consumer services under one roof, GrahakSuvidhaKendras has been launched in six locations, which include Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Patna and Delhi. Such centres will be set up in every state in a phased manner.

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