Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution
18-March-2015 12:16 IST
Department of Consumer Affairs launches portal for redressal of grievances against misleading advertisements

Grahak Suvidha Kendras – one stop consumer service centers opened in seven cities

New initiatives aimed to strengthen consumer protection further-Ram Vilas Paswan

Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution today launched two new initiatives of the Department of Consumer Affairs aimed at enhancing consumer awareness and strengthening support services to consumers in the

Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution today launched two new initiatives of the Department of Consumer Affairs aimed at enhancing consumer awareness and strengthening support services to consumers in the country. These include a dedicated portal to register Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA) and Grahak Suvidha Kendras – one stop consumer centers at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Patna and Delhi. Both the initiatives launched during a National Conference on Consumer Rights, organized by the Department of Consumer Affairs here today, will strengthen consumer protection further.

            Inaugurating the national conference before the launch of the initiatives, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan reiterated the commitment of the Government to Consumer Protection. He pointed out that Government alone, regardless of the sector it deals with or the domain it regulates, cannot adequately address several of these challenges whether from the perspective of the market or that of the consumer. There is a need, he emphasised, for all stakeholders – the Central Government, State Governments, Voluntary Consumer Organizations and elected representatives to work together to achieve this. He urged that a consumer advocacy strategy should be adopted uniformly across sectors and geographies and must include: consumer empowerment through awareness and education programs; enhancing the quality or type of information provided for products and services and standardizing contracts to ensure that they are not unfair to the consumer. Mandating ethical firm behavior by enforcing codes of conduct; extending a simple, speedy and affordable grievance redress window and using the institutional framework extant to reach out to the targeted consumer populations, especially in the rural areas should also be part of the strategy, he said.

In his welcome address Shri Keshav Desiraju, Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, noted that the challenges that we confront would require policy coherence; coordinated program implementation, harmonization of regulatory action and an institutional mechanism by which the interventions of government produce optimal results. It will also require harmonization of the legislative framework and the regulatory apparatus. Towards this end, he said, the Department of Consumer Affairs has undertaken the task of modernizing the legislative framework that governs Consumer Advocacy. Comprehensive amendments to the Consumer Protection Act as well as the Bureau of Indian Standards Act have been finalized to ensure timely executive interventions to ensure quality and safety of goods and services, prevention of unfair trade practices, address the problem of misleading advertisements, provide for speedy, simple and affordable consumer grievance redressal to enhance consumer protection.

On the occasion, Justice D.K.Jain, the President of the National Consumer Disputes Resolution Commission (NCDRC) noted that India enjoys a unique position in the consumer advocacy movement with a dedicated three tier Quasi - Judicial Consumer Dispute Redress Mechanism established at the District, State and National levels under the law. He emphasized the need for Governments at the Centre and the States and the consumer courts to work closely together to provide effective and timely grievance redressal to consumers.

Two technical sessions of the conference, one on the ‘Consumers’ Right to Safe and Healthy food’ and the second on the ‘Performance of Consumer Courts’ saw experts and regulators drawing attention to an actionable plan to prevent consumer detriment and enhance access to safe products and services on the one hand and an effective and timely dispute resolution mechanism on the other.

The conference noted that Consumer markets for goods and services have undergone profound transformation since the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act in 1986. The modern marketplace contains a plethora of increasingly complex products and services. The emergence of global supply chains, rise in international trade and the rapid development of e-commerce have led to new delivery systems for goods and services and have provided new opportunities for consumers. Equally, this has rendered the consumer vulnerable to new forms of unfair trade and unethical business practices.

Over 500 participants comprising Voluntary Consumer Organizations, Consumer Activists, Presidents of the State Consumer Commissions, sector Regulators, Academicians, and diverse other stakeholders from across the country attended the conference.

On the occasion, Shri Paswan also released a Consumer Handbook which provides information about consumer grievances redressal procedure besides launching an E-Book of Bureau of Indian Standards. The e-Book provides a synopsis of the history of BIS since its inception in 1947 and role being played by BIS in guaranteeing quality standards to consumers.


Portal forGrievances Against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA)

The explosive growth of multi-media marketing and the virtual market has seriously challenged the concept of ‘Consumer Sovereignty’. Increasingly subliminal advertising and peer pressure are influencing consumer behavior. Consumers are today exposed to large number of misleading advertisements often making claims that are dubious or unverified.  Till date there is no single platform or agency to serve as a central registry for complaints against misleading advertisements.  The Department of Consumer Affairs has taken the initiative to establish a dedicated portal to enable consumers to register their Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA).   Any consumer in any part of the country can register on this site and can lodge a complaint against misleading advertisements.  A well-defined protocol then ensures that the complaints are taken up with the relevant authorities in the state or the central government concerned and appropriate action taken. The portal also enables the consumer to be informed of the action taken.  The portal will be linked to all state authorities concerned, select voluntary consumer organizations in the country and the sector regulators in the Government of India.

Grahak Suvidha Kendra

The Department of Consumer Affairs has already set up and is supporting the National Consumer Helpline where consumers can lodge telephonic complaints regarding their grievances.  Similarly the Department has assisted 22 States to set up and run state help lines by which services are provided in regional language to aggrieved consumers. Building on the success of these initiatives the Department has now conceptualized and launched the Grahak Suvidha Kendra – a one stop center that will provide a host of services to consumers under one roof. Select Voluntary Consumer Organizations with funding support from Government will run the Kendras.  The services envisaged include information dissemination, consumer awareness, mediation, grievance redress, assistance in filing complaints before the relevant consumer forum and counseling. The Kendras are being launched on a pilot basis in six locations: Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Patna and Delhi.  Based on the performance of these pilot centers a decision to extend the scheme to other parts of the country will be explored.