The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) issued a notice to e-commerce entities Flipkart and Meesho for violations relating to the sale of acid reported on their platforms and sought an explanation within seven days.
The move came after a 17-year-old girl in the Dwarka area of Delhi was attacked with acid while she was going to her school on December 14, 2022.
The girl has been referred to Safdarjung Hospital and is currently undergoing treatment. The police have arrested all the accused in the case.
“The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) under the Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has taken strong action on violations of consumer rights. In a run-up to the increasing crimes in society, CCPA took stringent action to safeguard consumer interests,” Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said in a release on Friday.
“CCPA has sent notices to two e-commerce entities, namely Flipkart Internet Private Limited and Fashnear Technologies Private Limited (meesho.com) for gross violations relating to the sale of acid reported on their platforms. It has directed these entities to furnish detailed responses within 7 days,” it said.
The release said that CCPA, being the watchdog of consumer interest in India, has come across the sale of highly corrosive acids on these e-commerce platforms. The availability of hazardous acids in such an accessible manner can be dangerous and unsafe for consumers and to the public at large, it said.
“In light of a recent unfortunate incident of acid attack on a 17-year-old in Delhi whereby media reports have highlighted that the alleged offenders had purchased the said acid from Flipkart, it has been directed by CCPA to submit a detailed response, along with necessary supporting documents within 7 days addressing the concern of such availability of acids on its e-platform,” the release said.
The release said that CCPA, on a suo moto examination of online sale of corrosive acids, came across Meesho and found it to be selling such acids in violation of directions of the Supreme Court as well as the Advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“Any non-compliance by these e-commerce entities with the directions of CCPA’s notices will be strictly dealt with as per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019,” the ministry said.
The ‘consumer rights’ as defined under Section 2(9) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 includes the right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products or services which are hazardous to life and property.
The sale of highly corrosive acids in an easy, accessible and unregulated manner without any due diligence whatsoever by the e-marketplace entity can lead to disastrous consequences to the consumers, especially the vulnerable sections of society, namely women and children, the release said. As per Section 4 (3) of Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, no e-commerce entity shall adopt any unfair trade practice, whether in the course of business on its platform or otherwise.
“Considering the urgent need and attention, CCPA has taken suo moto note of the present matter, as under Section 18 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 which empowers it to protect, promote and enforce the rights of consumers as a class, and prevent violation of consumer rights, as well as prevent unfair trade practices and ensure that no person engages himself in such practices”.
Several states and UTs have already issued guidelines to regulate the sale of acids. “Since these e-commerce platforms operate and deliver their products across the length and breadth of the nation, they have been asked to provide the checks and compliances undertaken by them in this regard,” the release said.
It may be mentioned that in furtherance of the directions of the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Home Affairs had issued an Advisory on “Measures to be taken to prevent acid attacks on people and for treatment and rehabilitation of survivors” on August 30, 2013, wherein all the states and UTs were advised to take immediate steps to implement the measures mentioned for reduction of acid attacks and treatment and rehabilitation of acid attack survivors as well as any other measure as may be deemed fit.
Earlier on Wednesday, a 17-year-old girl was allegedly attacked with acid by two bike-borne men in Delhi’s Dwarka district area, police said on Wednesday. The girl has been referred to Safdarjung Hospital and is currently undergoing treatment.