Consumer law violators to face jail | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 29, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 29, 2008

Consumer law violators to face jail

The much-awaited consumers' rights protection law has come into effect with the provision of Tk 2 lakh in fine or three years in jail or both for traders adulterating food and medicine or cheating people by any means.
The new law, first ever in Bangladesh and gazetted on October 13, also allows consumers to lodge cases against unscrupulous traders and manufacturers engaged in adulteration, cheating and forgery.
“It's an achievement of our years of struggles. The new law has, at least, given us the right to file cases against cheating and adulteration by dishonest businessmen,” Borhan Ahmed, president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), told The Daily Star yesterday.
The law -- Consumers' Rights Protection Ordinance 2008 -- has come into force after President Iajuddin Ahmed signed the draft in mid-October. In the last 18 years, successive governments took initiatives to frame the law to ensure rights of consumers and protect market manipulations such as adulteration, hoarding and charging extra price.
But their attempts failed mostly due to oppositions by powerful business lobbyists, said the CAB president.
The ordinance came into effect amid consumers' worry about melamine-tainted milk powder after the High Court had imposed a ban on display and sale of eight milk powder brands suspected to be containing melamine.
“The melamine issue would not emerge so prominently if the law was enforced a couple of years ago. Now we want immediate implementation of the law,” said Borhan Ahmed, who was partly unhappy over the government because of not keeping provisions to form a consumers' court to file cases directly.
“It would be much better if consumers could file complaints with a consumer court directly,” he said.
Consumers will have to file complaints against traders, manufacturers or service providers with the Directorate of National Consumers' Rights Protection to be formed under the law.
The directorate, to be looked after by a National Consumers' Rights Protection Council, will act to prevent anti-consumer practices such as adulteration of food and medicine, forgery and charging extra price for a product.
The directorate will also be liable to look after whether consumers are being cheated by traders through fake or misleading advertisements. Non-delivery of products and services against payment and malpractice of showing low weight will also be treated as anti-consumer practices.
It will also be responsible for playing a surveillance role over service sectors such as private healthcare centres, transports, telecom service providers, and hotels and restaurants.
The law allows the directorate to temporarily shut down any shop, factory or warehouse if it detects any anti-consumer practices there. It will also be able to impose ban on production, import and marketing of any product hazardous to health, the law says.
Under the new law, traders will have to face one year in jail or Tk 50,000 as fine or both for violation of packaging rules, non-display of price list and charging extra price for a product.
For adulteration of food, medicine and other products, traders or manufacturers will also have to face a fine of up to Tk 2 lakh or three years in jail or both.
A fine of up to Tk 2 lakh or at least one year in jail or both will be applicable for cheating by showing fake advertisement to sell a product and service.

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