It’s all business: Sindh to finally get consumer protection council, tribunal

Written by  Published by:Pakistan Views Saturday, 21 February 2015 20:50

Karachi: For consumers in Sindh who have been trying to register complaints and cases against faulty manufacturers, the Sindh Assembly has finally decided to set up a consumer protection council and consumer tribunal.

This was done on Friday when the House passed the Sindh Consumer Protection Bill 2014 to promote and protect the rights and interests of consumers. For a decade, the Sindh consumer protection bill had been pending. The draft was reviewed, amended and eventually lapsed when members of the Sindh Assembly did nothing.

Consumers in the province kept suffering as there was no one to call out the manufacturers. Then, in 2013, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Sharmila Farooqi moved a private bill that was referred to the standing committee on law, parliamentary affairs and human rights for a review and amendments. This year, the Sindh Assembly finally passed the bill.

The committee’s chairperson, Syed Sardar Ahmed, submitted the report after making amendments to the minister for parliamentary affairs, Dr Sikandar Mandhro, who moved the bill during the session. “It is mandatory for the manufacture or trader to display the price of every good available for sale in a shop or display centre,” read the bill, adding that every trader has to issue a receipt to the purchaser showing the date of sale, descriptions of goods sold, date of manufacture and expiry, the batch number of the product, the original retail price, the quantity, price of the goods and the address of the seller.

The law has put a bar on people who make false promises, use deceptive advertising or give misleading representation of products. According to the law, no one will be allowed to advertise or promote services through a lottery or attracting consumers with additional expenditure or rewards.

The council

Tt was decided that the government will establish a consumer protection council in the province. These will also be set up at the district level and will report directly to the provincial council. Representatives from consumer and trade associations will work with these councils.

“This council will also gather information about products and remove items, which it thinks are dangerous or faulty to be in the market,” said Mandhro.

Going to court?

It was recommended that a consumer court will also be established in the province to hear damages claims and other cases. The government will issue a notification to set up one or more courts in each district, which will have an additional or district judge appointed by the government in consultation with the Sindh High Court.

“The court can summon both – the consumers and the relevant authority – within 15 days,” read the law, adding that the courts will have the same powers as a civil court under the code of civil procedure to summon and enforce the attendance of any defendant or witness and question him on oath. The cases, according to the consumer bill, will have to be decided within six months. It did point out that people cannot lodge complaints against manufacturers and traders for supplying sub-standard material or items.

If found guilty, punishment can extend to three years in prison with a fine of Rs100,000. The aggrieved party can file an appeal in the SHC within 30 days after the final order.

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