An individual or entity may need to sue another individual or entity. Consumer complaints, property disputes, bounced checks, divorces, evictions and other instances may arise. It is important for you to let the other person know that you intend to sue them. Therefore, a legal notice is sent to a person or entity.Continue reading
On Tuesday, the federal government announced new consumer protection guidelines for businesses, prohibiting direct-selling companies from promoting pyramid and money circulation schemes. The Centre stated under the new guidelines that companies must assure compliance with the standards within 90 days.Continue reading
In today’s fast-moving world, consumer protection is of paramount importance. Only when there is a sound system of safeguarding the interest of consumers who purchase goods or services from businesses or sellers will there be smooth functioning of markets, consumer welfare, and accountability on the part of businesses.Continue reading
By Simran Kaur, Flywork.io Team, Flywork.io.
IGRS (Integrated Grievance Redressal System) is an online portal that provides services related to land. In other words, It is a state government’s dedicated portal to maintain records while providing many online services to the citizens such as property details, encumbrance details, stamp duty information, etc.
Each state’s Stamp and Registration Department maintains a specialized portal, IGRS, where individuals can access a variety of property-related online services. The portal allows users to access online certified copies of deeds, stamp duty information, and information on specific properties, among other things.
According to an analysis by the Central Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS), Uttar Pradesh has become among the top five states in the country for rapid redress of public grievances. By resolving 68.89 percent of concerns in the last ten months under, the state has pushed its way into the top five states.
Puducherry tops the list with 96.61 percent grievance redressal, followed by Chhattisgarh with 83.91 percent, Delhi with 74.38 percent, and Tamil Nadu with 71.26 percent.
Let’s get to know more about the IGRS portal regarding Uttar Pradesh’s IGRS portal.
IGRS UP is essentially an integrated mechanism for resolving residents' issues in the state of Uttar Pradesh. People can use this service to make complaints, track their IGRS status, and provide comments to the government. Jansunwai UP status can be viewed at jansunwai.up.nic.in using the prescribed steps.
It was launched by the then-Chief Minister in 2016. It is an online system that encourages transparency and ensures that government departments are accountable to the state's citizens.
IGRS UP Complaint and Status Tracking: The public can quickly submit their concerns and issues with any government department through this portal. Jansunwai portal is the name of this integrated system. People can file their complaints at any time and from anywhere. They are not required to go to several government departments and offices to file complaints or register concerns.
The public and state departmental officers can use IGRS UP since it has a user-friendly interface and use the portal in either English or Hindi, depending on their preference.
Along with the online portal, the UP government gives citizens another venue to register their issues. Citizens can also use the Samadhan smartphone application, UP IGRS, to make grievances.
Both civilians and officers can use the Android application. The goal of the smartphone app is to achieve mobile government in the state. Citizens can use this app to send their complaints and track their progress without having to visit the official website. Similarly, departmental officers can use this mobile application to review complaints that have been emailed to them.
VARIOUS SERVICES AVAILABLE ON IGRS UP
- Understand your SRO
- Property service registration copies that have been certified
- Search for encumbrances
- Looking for the market value of a commodity
- Registration of a society
- Sale document, bainama and dastavez in Uttar Pradesh
- Registration of marriages
- Information on chit money
- Vendors of stamps and information about stamp
BENEFITS OF THE PORTAL
- With the assistance of information technology, it facilitated good governance in the state.
- It is a simple and user-friendly interface for citizens to register complaints.
- It is a transparent common interface for all citizen grievances.
- Citizens are given a single username/password to use to register problems with various departments via this single portal.
By Nevin Clinton, Flywork.io Team, Flywork.io.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution issued the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 last year, and the Rules coupled with the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 have some important implications for consumers and e-commerce entities. E-commerce here refers to the buying and selling of goods or services, including digital products over the digital or electronic network. The Rules also define an e-commerce entity as any person who owns, operates, or manages a digital or electronic facility or platform for electronic commerce, but does not include a seller offering his goods or services for sale on a marketplace.
The 2019 Act brought in an important change by including e-commerce entities under consumer laws when it added an explanation under Section 2(7) stating that the expressions "buy any goods" and "hires or avails any services" include offline or online transactions through electronic means. It is noteworthy here that even before the Act was passed, there were rules on e-commerce released by the government in both 2018 and 2019. The 2020 rules are still significant as there are plenty of important changes that have been introduced.
Concept of ‘user’ defined
First and foremost, the e-commerce rules have brought in the concept of ‘user’ which is a wider term than ‘consumer’. Here, all persons (individuals or companies) who make use of a computer resource of an e-commerce entity are covered. This is important because, in all the rules where an obligation is imposed on the entities, it is that which has the corresponding right to be informed and not the ‘consumer’. Thus, the rules have brought in entities that have users or consumers on the internet under the purview of consumer laws.
E-commerce entities to disclose information
Under the e-commerce rules, every e-commerce entity has to provide various information on its platform that is displayed ‘prominently’ to its users. These duties are listed down by the 7th rule and it includes details like mentioning the legal name of the e-commerce entity, details of website and contact details, address of headquarters and branches, and so on. Further, marketplace entities (those that connect buyers and sellers) must provide details on refund, return, exchange, warranty, guarantee, delivery, shipment, modes of payment, the security of the methods, fees or charges payable by users, details on how to cancel payments under the said methods, charge-back options and contact information. Similarly, obligations are imposed on inventory entities (those that own inventory of goods and sell directly to consumers) as well.
Other salient features of the rules
Another important inclusion in the rules is the one concerning grievance redressal mechanisms in e-commerce entities. Every entity is required to have such a mechanism and a grievance officer must be appointed. Further, on the platform, the contact details of the said officer must be displayed. The officer has the duty of acknowledging every consumer complaint within 48 hours before redressing it in a maximum of one month.
The rules also protect users from being subject to false representation and price manipulation. The e-commerce entity posing as a user and posting reviews and the likes of such things are prohibited. Further, the entity must not subject its consumers to ‘unjustified’ prices considering the existing market conditions.
How do the rules impact e-commerce entities and consumers?
The e-commerce rules are directed at ensuring that e-commerce entities don’t manipulate their consumers online by misleading them. By providing for the prohibition of false representation and price manipulation, the rules safeguard the consumers while the obligations of disclosing a plethora of information help them stay aware.
Further, in a notification released in May 2021, the government has asked every e-commerce entity to appoint a nodal officer to ensure compliance with the rules. Therefore, the rules as a whole have made things more burdensome for entities concerning how they treat consumers and rightly so. In today’s digital world, there is plenty of scope for consumers to be misled or even cheated, leading to the need for stricter laws. The Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 seek to achieve this objective and while they might seem to be causing a great deal of hassle for the entities, consumers’ rights must be protected.
Thus for the service providers who provide e-commerce services and the entities themselves, it is of huge importance to acknowledge the rules and comply with them. Requirements of disclosure of all necessary information, grievance redressal mechanisms, the appointment of nodal officers, and avoiding false representation and manipulation of prices must be kept in mind. The consumers too must stay aware and know their rights.
By Nevin Clinton, Flywork.io Team, Flywork.io.
Medical or health care services form an indispensable part of one's life, especially now during this worldwide health crisis. Let's revisit the Consumer Protection Act 2019 and see what could exclusion of healthcare under the new Act mean for consumers of medical treatments and services.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 which had been in force for more than 3 decades was repealed by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (hereinafter referred to as CPA 2019). The new act sought to replace those parts of the former act that were archaic while also bringing in a plethora of new provisions. Various objectives like the establishment of the Consumer Protection Authority, provisions on mediation, modern methods of filing of cases, hearings through video-conferencing, changing of pecuniary jurisdiction, and more were fulfilled and brought in. Among these changes, one other aspect that was pondered upon was the inclusion of ‘healthcare’ under the definition of ‘service’ which was present in earlier Bills presented before the Parliament. In the end, the inclusion was decided against from being implemented.
This exclusion isn’t a particularly groundbreaking one as such, but it still raises a lot of important questions. The reason why it isn’t groundbreaking is that the Act mentions that the definition ‘includes but is not limited to the terms that follow. And yet, it reflects the thinking of the lawmakers even as questions raised over how the issue of healthcare and medical negligence should be dealt with, continues to loom large. Before looking at the implications, it is noteworthy that ‘healthcare’ was never a part of consumer laws in India. It was only a potential change that seemed set to be made was not made.
Some Important Case Laws:
Now, it is essential to get some background on the issue of whether medical professionals have been covered under the CPA, 2019 through past case laws. The landmark case in this regard is Indian Medical Association v. V.P. Shantha where it was held that despite the fact that ‘healthcare’ is not included expressly under the definition of ‘service’, a medical practitioner’s consultation, diagnosis, and treatment would fall under it. In Jacob Mathew v. the State of Punjab, the same was reiterated and it was held that the degree of negligence on the part of the medical practitioner should be gross to be considered criminal. In Maharaja Agrasen Hospital v. Master Rishabh Sharma, the Supreme Court held that there was a vicarious liability on the part of the hospital as well, in cases of medical negligence. In none of these cases or any other case has there been a verdict stating that ‘healthcare’ does not fall under the definition of ‘service’ or that it should not be governed by the Consumer Protection Act.
Doctors are susceptible to harassment
It is noteworthy that medical professionals have not wanted to be governed by consumer laws and have wanted ‘healthcare’ to be expressly excluded from the act. And that is not what they’ve got as there is no express exclusion but a mere absence. So what are the implications? Firstly, cases of medical negligence can be governed by the CPA, 2019 as it has been in the past by the 1986 Act. So, doctors are still susceptible to harassment and hassles that could be caused by having a legal suit filed against them. Including medical negligence under ‘services’ could lead to frivolous lawsuits being filed. This is exactly why doctors have been opposed to the fact that ‘healthcare’ was not expressly said to be excluded.
Patients’ rights are important too!
But there is another side of the coin to consider. Protection of patients is of paramount importance and doctors can’t afford to be too casual in rendering their services. Of course, patients have the option of invoking Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code under which a case for death caused by negligence can be filed or deprivation of the right to life under the Constitution of India. But having the protection under the CPA helps patients hold doctors accountable wherever necessary and not only in cases of death or grave injury.
Hence, there is a need to strike a balance between protecting patients and safeguarding doctors from harassment and hassles. A clear explanation through regulations or guidelines can go a long way in ensuring the same instead of leaving every aspect of medical negligence to be dealt with on a case-to-case basis. If the government does so, not only the courts and consumer commissions but also the medical practitioners and patients will have much-needed relief from the uncertainty that is prevalent at present.
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GST for Real Estate in India
Akin to the country's first Jawaharlal Nehru who had given the 'Tryst with Destiny' speech at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the current Narendra Modi government also chose the midnight of June 30 to have a tryst with GST.
Real estate sector being the most pivotal ranks second just behind agriculture.
GST shall bring a lot of transparency in the real estate sector and minimize unscrupulous transactions.
Now whether this benefit gets passed on to the end-consumer is unsure as pricing of real estate is driven by market forces than on costing principles.
Effective GST rate on under- construction real estate projects will be 12 per cent only.
The government had hiked the GST rate for the construction sector to 18 per cent from 12 per cent but removed land value from computation of tax liability.
According to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the products placed under the 28 per cent tax slab would not adversely impact the lower or middle class.
Cement will be taxed at the rate of 28% under GST. It is higher the current average rate of tax around 23-24% but a lot of additional taxes charged over the average rate would be subsumed under GST. Iron rods and pillars used in the construction of buildings is charged at the rate of 18% which is similar to the current average rate of 19.5%.
Bricks used in the construction of buildings and houses is taxed under GST at the rate of 28% except for the rate of ceramic building bricks which is kept under 5%. Currently, all bricks except the ceramic bricks are charged an average tax rate of 25-26% inclusive of all state and central level taxes. Logistics cost of transportation of bricks, cement or iron is going to reduce through the subsuming and streamlining of taxes
There is an positive & more sort of initial opening bumper for the reformative Modi Government when the
Stock Exchange Markets Hit Bright Spot.
The Stocks Opened at Above 31,000 on Monday 3rd july due to overall global appreciation of Modi Govt GST by Foreign Finance Index of Asian, US & European Countries claiming that no modern government in the entire World could ever be as bold as ours.
But, the procedures of filing returns in new GST regime are bound to be cumbersome, with businesses expected to file at least 37 returns in a year. This will be multiplied several times depending on the number of states in which one is transacting a business.
Although this cannot be deemed simple in any sense of the term.
But, its true that,
Developers/Builder's and Contractors would reap the benefit of many taxes which will be subsumed by GST.
Conclusively saying, there is going to be a substantial benefit from GST as it will bring a lot of required transparency and accountability.
#NarendraModi #GST #BJP #The Realty Paper
Do celebrities owe us a duty for the claims they make in advertisements?
The favorite midnight snack of many, Nestlé’s Maggi has been banned by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) because of problems associated with the quality and labeling of the product. The notices issued to various celebrities who had been endorsing Maggi noodles and the orders for lodging FIR against them have reignited an extremely important legal debate concerning the liability of celebrities for the product endorsements they make. This article discusses the duty of celebrities for their endorsements, relevant laws in India and the precedents in some other countries.
Making a case for celebrity endorsement
There are many questions which crop up when we seek to make celebrities liable for their claims in advertisements. First among them being do the people actually believe in the claims celebrities make? Are the products bought because of endorsements or are they bought first and endorsements only reassure the consumer? Well, there is no straitjacket formula to these questions unlike believed by some. It certainly depends on “the context, the product or service endorsed, the expertise of the celebrity in that area, the mass appeal of the celebrity and the reliance of individual consumer”. This brings us to a more nuanced argument. Does the fact that celebrities have a right to publicity which they harness economically while advertising, impose a duty on them to not use this right in a manner detrimental to the general public? Or since the celebrities have a right to publicity, the audience has a reciprocal right of reliance? After all, unlike the movies, the fact that the plot and characters are fictional is never reflected/shown in an advertisement. In fact the representations made by the likes of Ms. Padukone are a “cause in fact” of the pecuniary loss to the consumers to the extent of the difference between an effective gym equipment for losing one’s weight and the Kellogg’s Special K. Similar arguments can be made for every misleading advertisement. Some make a superficial distinction between the celebrities giving personal testimonies versus the celebrity playing a role in the advertisement, for instance Ms. Dixit is playing the role of a mother in the Maggi advertisement. It is argued that a celebrity should be liable only when (s)he is making a personal testimony and not when (s)he is playing a role of another. However, it is extremely difficult to accept this difference. Audience generally does not think this way when relying upon the claims. Further, as stated above, unlike films, the fictional and impersonalized role is not emphasized in advertisements, thus making no space for this argument. Another argument put forth by the people disagreeing with making celebrities liable is based on the fact that celebrities have to no way in which they can identify the truthfulness of the statement which they are made to say in the testimonial by the ad-gurus. However a simple counter to this is requiring celebrities to test, try and experiment the product to find out. Similar has been legislated upon in various countries as we will see in the next section. While this may sound a little far-fetched in the case of Maggi noodles, after all, checking the amount of lead is the duty of the FSSAI and not Ms. Dixit’s and every single pack can certainly not be checked by the celebrities, yet celebrities can certainly be made liable for making sweeping claims like a person drinking Drink X can grow twice as taller as (s)he would grow drinking Drink Y (the ad for the health drink Complan). Therefore, there remains a strong case for making celebrities liable.
What are our neighbors and partners in trade doing about it?
In the USA, the Federal Trade Commission Guidelines prohibit deceptive and misleading endorsements by celebrities and make celebrities liable for the same. The endorsers are required to reflect their “honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience” in the advertisements. In fact, the advertisers can continue to use the endorsements only as long as the advertiser has a good reason to believe that the endorser continues to remain a bona fide user of the endorsed product. In Europe, the celebrities follow a self-imposed code whereby they refrain from endorsing products harmful to the health of the general public like alcohol, medicines etc. Korea on the other hand has an Advertising Self-regulation Institution which issues guidelines with respect to endorsements and reviews the endorsed advertisements making false advertisements a rarity. Among our neighbors, China makes the endorsers jointly liable with the service provider for the harm caused by the product. Pakistan also has laws forbidding false and misleading advertisements, however it is uncertain whether these laws will also include liability of celebrities for their endorsements. The Malaysian Code of Advertising Practice requires that the endorsements or testimonials contained in advertisements should be based on genuine experience of the endorser over a period of time. Malaysia also has special guidelines for “[p]ersons, characters or group who have achieved particular celebrity status with children”. These celebrities are forbidden from promoting food or drinks in a manner that may undermine the need for a healthy diet however the endorsers are not liable for the same since sanctions are in the form of “withholding of advertising space from advertisers and the withdrawal of trading privileges from advertisers/ advertising agencies”. Singapore has similar laws relating to false advertisements and is also cogitating to put into place specialized guidelines pertaining to children. In Japan on the other hand celebrities participating in false endorsements are made to apologize publicly. This harms the reputation of the endorser decreasing the employment opportunities of these people, forcing celebrities to refrain from making claims with regard to the quality or effectiveness of a product.
What is the law in India?
Section 24 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 puts restrictions on misleading advertisements. It states, that “no person” shall be allowed to engage in misleading representation concerning the “standard, quality, quantity or grade-composition” and “need for, or the usefulness” of a food product. (S)he should not make any statement which “gives to the public any guarantee of the efficacy [of the product] that is not based on an adequate or scientific justification thereof.” Section 53 of the Act describes the penalty for such false advertisements which can extend to ten lakh rupees. This penalty applies to “any person” and hence should ideally include the celebrities; however there is no case law to support this proposition. The Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC) has also decided to issue specific guidelines to this effect after the MP High Court directed to set up an advertisement monitoring panel as per the Vibha Bhargava Commission. These guidelines if enforced will allow consumers to claim compensation from celebrities for misleading claims made regarding a product, recklessly or with knowledge that the claim is false.
The case for celebrity endorsement is a strong one considering the status which is accorded to the claims made by these stars and the money which is used in these endorsements. This has been understood across the world and many countries have laws to the effect of punishing celebrities for misleading claims. Indian laws are also developing in this regard and stars in India are becoming more aware with respect to the duty they owe to their fans. For instance recently Amitabh Bachchan stopped promoting Pepsi after a young girl questioned him as to his reasons for endorsing Pepsi which her teacher had termed as poison.