Thursday, January 6, 2011

Telecom Disputes In India And Consumer Protection In India

Consumer protection in India got a boost with the enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 1986. It provided a power in the hands of Indian consumers to get appropriate, timely and effective grievances redressal against companies and individuals who had provided defective good or deficient services.

All was going well till Supreme Court of India passed an order regarding telecom disputes. The order, in short, mandates that in case of telecom disputes, consumer forums/courts do not have jurisdiction as appropriate remedy is by way of arbitration.

While the ambit, scope and merit of the order is debatable and controversial, yet it would be a good idea if the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is properly amended to neutralise this decision, opines Praveen Dalal, a Supreme Court Lawyer and Leading Techno Legal Expert of India.

According to Dalal, the CPA was enacted long time back and contemporary Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related disputes and dispute resolution mechanisms were well beyond Parliament’s contemplation at that time. However, it is high time for the Department of Consumer Affairs in general and Parliament of India in particular to bring suitable amendments in the CPA to make it more effective and responsive, suggests Dalal.

With the growing grievance of consumers in the telecom sector, it would be a bad idea if these grievances and disputes are left out of the purview of CPA. The Department of Consumer Affairs must start the ball rolling and make a suitable amendment draft of CPA as soon as possible.