Seminar points to shortcomings of consumer rights protection law
The Consumer Rights Protection Act limits a consumer's right to seek justice directly by making it mandatory for the aggrieved person to get permission from the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate.
Under the law, an unhappy consumer will not be able to file allegation directly to a magistrate seeking justice, which impedes the individual's access to justice, said speakers at a discussion yesterday.
“It's unfavourable for consumers,” said Masum Billah, assistant professor of Department of Law, Jagannath University.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) organised the programme, marking one-year of passage of Consumer Rights Protection Act, at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU).
Advocate Sigma Huda, general secretary of Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR) and KM Abul Hasan, member of National Consumers Rights Protection Council, also spoke on the occasion, chaired by CAB Acting President Quazi Faruque.
The law, first-ever in Bangladesh, came into effect in April 2009 after nearly two decades of contemplation by successive governments.
According to the law, an aggrieved consumer will have to seek approval from the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection within 30 days of feeling cheated or victimised.
Besides this directorate, the National Consumers Rights Protection Council has been formed to protect consumer rights.
Based on allegation, a case could be started if the directorate submits a charge sheet to magistrate within 90 days.
Masum said this is another weakness of the law as it has not detailed what will happen if the directorate fails to submit any charge sheet within the time stipulated by the law.
“India and Malaysia have separate tribunals for consumers. But there is no such provision in our law,” he said presenting a keynote paper.
The law has kept the provision to charge as much as Tk 2 lakh in fine or three years in jail or both for the traders adulterating food and medicine or cheating people by any means.
“Even if there is incidence of death, the tenure of punishment is only three years,” the university teacher said, suggesting revision of such punitive measure.
Sigma Huda said provisions to file petitions against public organisation should be kept in the consumer rights protection law.
She said BSEHR would extend legal help to the insolvent aggrieved consumers intending to sue any offender.