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Progress on India’s Consumer Complaint Portal

Image credits: Press Information Bureau

To address the new and emerging concerns affecting consumers, the Consumer Protection Act 2019 was notified and enforced in July 2020. Developed under the Act and as a response to the restrictions consumers faced during the pandemic, the e-Daakhil portal was introduced in September 2020. It is an inexpensive, speedy, and hassle-free mechanism for filing consumer complaints.

It is functional in 33 states and union territories for the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), state commissions, 13 circuit benches, and 651 district commissions. Over the last two years, the government’s consumer complaint platform, e-Daakhil, has received a total of 23,640 complaints, a press release has stated.

This year, on its second anniversary, the Secretary Department of Consumer Affairs, Rohit Kumar Singh, and the Additional Secretary and Chief Commissioner of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), Nidhi Khare, released an e-book on the progress the portal has made. Presently, at least 84,957 people are registered users in the e-Daakhil portal, up from 5,963 in 2020. With the recent updates, 5,590 cases have been admitted and 889 cases have been disposed of.

It has also been integrated into Common Service Centres (CSCs) to make electronic filing easier for rural residents. CSCs are used by consumers at the gram panchayat (village council) level and those who are unable to file complaints online with the consumer commission. Now, consumers who lack the access or technical expertise to operate electronic equipment can seek assistance from their local CSCs to lodge complaints with the relevant consumer commission.

The provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019 allow aggrieved consumers to seek compensation for injury as well as penalise the violators in court. The Act also encompasses provisions to hear the complaints through video conferencing in consumer commissions, the release stated.

The portal enables aggrieved consumers to submit online complaints to consumer commissions, pay fees, and track the progress of the case from their homes. Any consumer or advocate can sign up on the e-Daakhil platform with the required authentication. Once they receive an OTP on their registered cell phone or an activation link on their registered email address, they can begin to file a complaint.

The e-Daakhil system has several successful cases that were resolved in the districts of Firozabad, Aligarh, Mainpuri, Vaishali, Port Blair, Dumka, West Tripura and Rangareddi, and Andaman and Nicobar. Further, the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) is in service around the clock, and available in 12 different languages.

As e-commerce and digital payments become increasingly popular, the government has been working to put in place security mechanisms to fight fraud and cybercrime. In May, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) held a meeting to develop a framework to identify fake reviews on e-commerce websites. Since e-commerce revolves around virtual shopping experiences without the opportunity to physically view or examine the product, consumers heavily rely on product reviews posted on e-commerce platforms. An official explained that traceability by ensuring the authenticity of the reviewer and the associated liability of the platform are the two key issues. E-commerce players must disclose how they choose to display the most relevant reviews, ideally fairly and transparently.

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