Expressing concern over the growing consolidation of internet-based economic activity among some companies across multiple sectors, the government on Monday said there is a need to protect the interests of consumers and prevent them from being exploited.
The government also said that consumer complaints related to online transactions are on the rise and pointed out that 38-40 per cent of the total complaints registered on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) last month are related to e-commerce business.
Addressing a national workshop for effective and speedy consumer dispute redressal, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said that Consumer Commission is the only hope for consumers who need justice.
However, the increasing pendency of cases and delayed justice is a cause of concern which needs to be addressed with a “collective effort”, he said.
The minister suggested that reducing the number of adjournments, augmenting infrastructure in district courts, promoting arbitration, e-filing and e-disposal should help in reducing the pendency of cases.
While consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh stressed that consumer courts have a bigger role to play in protecting consumer rights amid increasing consolidation of internet-based economic activity, consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said, “With the consolidation, the key players power is increasing and there is an imbalance in power towards consumers.”
He said that when internet came in 2000 it was felt that it would lead to democratization and decentralization but today all economic activities are slowly getting consolidated.
For example, there are two-three major players in e-commerce, taxi aggregators, food and beverage business. He said that there are also four major companies in telecom services.
To ensure that the rising power imbalances of the major players do not affect the interests of the consumers, the Secretary said, “…it is important for us to stand firmly with the consumers and ensure through commissions that the consumers are not deceived and their rights are not violated.”
In this background, Shri Singh stressed on the need to focus on reducing the pendency in consumer courts and providing speedy and affordable justice to the consumers.