CPA

1. Pecuniary Jurisdiction: As per proposed CPA Bill 2018, the District Forum shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration does not exceed Rs. 1 Crore, the State Commission shall have jurisdiction upto Rs. 10 Crore and the National Commission shall have jurisdiction where value of service or goods exceeds Rs. 10 Crore. In present CPA 1986, the District Forum has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services paid as consideration does not exceed Rs. 20 Lacs, the State Commission has jurisdiction upto Rs. 1 Crore and the National Commission has jurisdiction where the value of service or goods exceeds Rs. 1 Crore. So complaint where value upto Rs. 1 Crore which is the limit of State Commission at present will be in district forum, so more cases will be lodged in District Forum with claiming higher compensations. However, an order of compensation depends upon evidence produced by the complainant not by merely claiming, but definitely, a doctor will remain in tense till the disposal of the case for claiming such huge amount of compensation in District Forum by a complainant. So doctors will remain in more defensive position and work under pressure for fear of being penalized large compensations. 2. Unfair Trade Practice: Proposed CPA Bill 2018 mentions the list of Unfair Trade Practices, amongst the following two should be kept in mind by doctors and health sector. ? Not issuing a bill or cash memo or receipt for the goods sold or services are covered under Unfair Trade Practice and liable for penalties? Disclosing to another person any personal information given in confidence by the consumer unless such disclosure is made in accordance with the provisions of any law for the time being in force. However, the Medical Council of India has already mentioned in codes of Medical Ethics Regulations to maintain secrecy about a patient illness. But now doctor will be answerable to Consumer Forum for disclosing the information which he obtained from a patient during the course of her/his treatment. Moreover, every individual Doctor/ Nursing Home / Corporate Hospital should have a Medical Record Department ensuring optimal security of patients information as well as should maintain all financial records of his/her clinic. 3. Qualification of President of Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum/ Commission: As per CPA Act 1986 Clause 10, ?a person, who is or has been qualified to be a District Judge, shall be its President.? But in Proposed CPA Bill 2018, there is no clarification regarding qualification of President. However, it is mentioned that the Central Government may by notification, make rules for the qualification. But it is necessary that the President of Forum Commission should be from judiciaries to judge the case technically, legally and neutrally. 4. Mediation: In proposed CPA Bill 2018, clause 37 There is a provision of mediation of the consumer case and as per this clause, at the first hearing of the complaint after its admission, or at any later stage, if it appears to the District Commission that there exist elements of a settlement which may be acceptable to the parties, except in such cases as may be prescribed, it may direct the parties to give in writing, within five days, consent to have their dispute settled by mediation. Looking at a large number of cases admitted in Consumer Forum and because of that, plenty of cases pending in the forum for a longer time, it will be a good provision where a dispute can be settled by saving the time of forum. Now the question is how it affects Medical Negligence cases. I think it is a double-edged sword. Looking to a proposed new bill, a jurisdiction of District Forum will be for the value of upto Rs.1 Crore and chances of more cases with a higher claiming amount. So, fear of higher compensation amount will drag doctors into mediation for settlement. So even if the doctor is not negligent but only fear of higher figure he may prefer mediation. Another part is that there are so many cases settled out of court and even after taking an amount from a doctor, the patient goes to Consumer Forum. So it will be good provision for those who are scare of facing legal proceeding and want to go for out of court settlement should opt for mediation at first hearing after an admission of complaint in forum making settlement legal. 5. Offences and Penalties: As per proposed CPA Bill 2018, whoever fails to comply with any direction of the Central Authority under Sections 20 and 21, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 6 months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 20 Lacs, or with both. So failing to comply order will result in imprisonment as well as penalty also. Any manufacturer or service provider who causes a false or misleading advertisement to be made, which is prejudicial to the interest of consumers, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years and with fine which may extend to Rs. 10 Lacs; and for every subsequent offence, be punished with imprisonment for term which may extend to 5 years and with fine which may extend to Rs. 50 Lacs. This is a good provision for qualified doctors who want to do practice in their respective field. Even we can stop the bogus and unqualified doctors earning money by giving false and misleading advertisement if we make this implemented effectively. 6. No provision for False and Vexatious complaint: In CPA 1986, there is a provision of False and Vexatious complaint to be dismissed with the order of cost upto Rs.10000 but the proposed CPA bill 2018 has no such provision. So chances of a false complaint will be increased. 

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