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Move to modify consumers’ rights law

Punishment to double

Published : 26 May 2022 09:46 PM

The government is planning to amend the ‘Consumers’ Right Protection Act, 2009’ to strengthen the law with the provision of doubling the punishment. 

Some new sectors, including e-commerce, will be added to the law. 

AHM Shafiquzzaman, Director General of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection said that plans have been taken to strengthen the law, taking into account the interest of consumers. A draft is being prepared in this regard. 

He also said, “They won’t only carry out grocery or Karwanbazar-centric operation. People are constantly being harassed and cheated while taking various services. We have started work to prevent these acts of fraudulence and harassment. We will work to ensure all kinds of proper services.”

The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection was established in 2010 under the Commerce Ministry following the enactment of the ‘Consumers’ Rights Protection Act, 2009’. The department can’t play a vital role in protecting the rights of consumers. Officials of the department said that they lack adequate human resources to perform raids against the widespread violation of the law. 

Tele Consumers Association of Bangladesh (TCAB) has demanded an amendment to the ‘Consumers’ Right Protection Act, 2009’ to protect the interest of consumers in all sectors, including the digital sector. 

Murshidul Haque, the convener of the TCAB, said that the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection should be made more people-friendly and strong so that it can carry out the consumers’ protection activities, including market monitoring, smoothly. The manpower of the department should be increased, while it should be more empowered to work for the interest of consumers, he added.  

The current system of legal protection for consumers is inadequate and outdated. Consumers are deprived of their rights in every sphere of their lives.

The Consumers’ Right Protection Act, 2009, and other laws regarding the consumers have loopholes and the laws don’t meet the present needs. 

According to law, any aggrieved consumer can’t go to court about faulty or artificially over-invoiced products or services. Only the designated government officials are empowered under the law. However, any aggrieved consumer can lodge a written complaint with the Director-General of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection or an authorized official of the department within 30 days.

Murshidul Haque of TCAB said that the loophole in the existing law discourages consumers in many cases from taking advantage of consumer’s rights law. He said that the issue of consumer complaints and their settlement can be done online and the issue should be made easy in order to make this law more popular and easily available. 

Alongside the loophole over the complaint system, the provision of punishment under the law is so negligible that nobody cares to abide by such law. As per the law, the punishment is maximum of three years of imprisonment or a fine of Tk. 50,000 to two lakh taka.

Palash Mahumd, Executive Director at Conscious Consumers Society, told the Bangladesh Post that this law does not favor consumers much. The punishment is not sufficient. The law must be amended to shun the loopholes. “We heard that the authorities concerned are planning to double the punishment in the amended law. It would be better,” he added.  

Monjur Mohammad Shahriar, director (admin and finance) at the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, said that there is a need for strengthening the Consumers’ Rights Protection Act to make sustainable the development spree. Besides, the organogram of the department needs to be increased side by side the business bodies also need to be strengthened. 

He, however, said that the plan was taken to amend the Consumers’ Rights Protection Act, 2009 which will also cover the sector. 

AHM Shafiquzzaman also said that the existing law would be amended to bring the e-commerce sector into line.  

Murshidul Haque of TCAB said that the consumers have the right to buy safe, quality and authentic products and services in the open market system of the 21st century. In a densely populated and developing market country like Bangladesh, it is very important to protect consumers’ rights and prevent anti-consumer rights activities.

He further said that although the law mentions conventional products, it does not clearly mention the protection of the rights of the consumers in the information and communication technology sector. 

It has been proven in the recent fraud of various e-commerce organizations, fraud in digital finance, fraud in mobile banking, fraud in the name of illegal online lending, and fictitious service charges for e-ticketing. So, the e-commerce sector must come under the law, he added.