The Government of India is keen to empower consumers against sub-standard goods by enacting. In the works are a set of tough laws which will include the critical product liability clause, making erring manufacturers and suppliers liable to pay punitive damages.
The proposals to enact to overhaul existing consumer laws, are part of recommendations made by the Planning Commission during the 11th Five-Year Plan, which is to be placed before the National Development Council in December, 2007. The Planning Commission has recommended mandatory standards for products, which impact health and safety of the consumer as well as harm the environment. These include electrical appliances, electronic, IT and telecom products, medical devices, industrial and fire safety equipment, helmets and material used for food packaging.
The Government of India has admitted that there are serious shortfalls in achieving consumer welfare because of lack of laws regulating many products and services that impact health, environment and safety in general. The Planning Commission has suggested setting up of a National Quality and Standardisation Authority. This authority would be empowered to provide voluntary standards for all areas of economic and social activities and mandatory standards for products that impact health, safety and environment. There are also suggestions for setting up of a National Consumer Protection Authority that could fill the lacunae created by the winding up of Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission. This authority would be empowered to look into deceptive practices and misleading advertisements by manufacturers and service providers.