The government today said it is hopeful that the new Consumer Protection Bill 2015, that aims to impose harsh penalties on endorsement of misleading ads among others, will be passed in the forthcoming Budget session of Parliament.
In August this year, the Centre had introduced the Consumer Protection Bill 2015 in Lok Sabha, to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act. A Parliamentary Standing Committee had also submitted its recommendations in April.
The Consumer Affairs Ministry has accepted some of the recommendations of the panel and finalised the draft Bill, which has also been vetted by the Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
"We were expecting the passage of the Consumer Protection Bill in Winter Session but that did not happen. We are hopeful that it will be passed in the Budget Session of Parliament," Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters.
The Minister said that the government has made sweeping changes in the Bill as it now provides huge penalties on celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements and ban such offenders for up to three years.
It also seeks to create a Consumer Protection Authority to fast-track grievance redressal of consumers on the lines of US and European countries. The Bill has a provision for product liability and penalties in certain cases of food poisoning.
Highlighting the major achievements of his ministry in 2016, Paswan said that it came out with direct selling guidelines for the Rs 80 billion industry and companies have been asked to submit their declarations by January 24, 2017.
That apart, the government has revised the Legal Metrology (Packaged commodities) Rules, 2011 to enable the competent authority under the Essential Commodities Act 1955 to fix standard quantities and retail sale prices of essential items.
On pulses, the Minsiter said that the government has created a buffer stock of 7 lakh tonnes so far, both through imports and domestic procurement.
The pulses from the buffer are being released to states and agencies for direct distribution to public at reasonable rates. So far, 55,000 tonnes of pulses have been released from the buffer, he said.
Paswan said that the national food security law, under which highly subsidised foodgrains are distributed to the poor, has been implemented in all states this year.
He said that significant reforms have been undertaken in Public Distribution System (PDS) to make it more transparent and leak proof and better targeting of food subsidy.