The Central Consumer Protection Authority passed an order on violation of consumer rights by e-commerce platform ‘Flipkart’ for allowing sale of domestic pressure cookers in violation to mandatory standards.
Headed by Chief Commissioner Nidhi Khare, the CCPA has directed Flipkart to notify consumers of all 598 pressure cookers sold on its platform, recall the pressure cookers and reimburse their prices to the consumers and submit a compliance report of the same within 45 days. The company has also been directed to pay a penalty of ₹1,00,000 for allowing sale of such pressure cookers on its e-commerce platform and violating rights of consumers.
The Central Government, from time to time, notifies the Quality Control Orders (QCOs) specifying compulsory conformity to a standard and use of standard mark for a product to protect consumers from risk of suffering injury and harm and in the interest of public at large. The Domestic Pressure Cooker (Quality Control) Order, which came into force on 01.02.2021 mandates conformity to IS 2347:2017 for all domestic pressure cookers. Therefore, since 01.02.2021, all pressure cookers are required to conform to IS 2347:2017 and due diligence is required to be done whether the pressure cookers are offered for sale online or offline.
Flipkart admittedly earned a total fee of ₹1,84,263 through sale of such pressure cookers on its e-commerce platform. It was observed by CCPA that when Flipkart has gained commercially from the sale of such pressure cookers, it cannot alienate itself from the role and responsibility arising out of their sale to consumers.
To raise awareness and quality consciousness among consumers, CCPA has launched a country-wide campaign to prevent sale of spurious and counterfeit goods that violate QCOs published by the Central Government. Daily use products identified as part of the campaign include Helmets, Domestic Pressure Cookers and Cooking Gas Cylinders. CCPA has written to District Collectors across the country to investigate unfair trade practices and violation of consumer rights concerning manufacture or sale of such products and submit Action Taken Report.
Under the campaign, BIS has conducted search and seizure of a number of non-standard helmets and pressure cookers. 1,435 pressure cookers and 1,088 helmets which did not conform to mandatory standards have been seized by BIS.
CCPA has also written to Chief Secretaries of all states and U.Ts. todirect requisite action under law and ensure compliance of standards directed for compulsory use by the Central Government to protect the interest of consumers.
Further, CCPA has written to Director General, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to duly notify all regional branches of BIS to take immediate cognizance of offences of violation of mandatory standards under the provisions of BIS Act, 2016.
Since the launch of new short code ‘1915’ by the Department of Consumer Affairs, more and more consumers have been registering their grievances on the National Consumer Helpline. It is relevant to note that e-commerce continues to occupy the highest proportion of all grievances registered on NCH.In the month of July 2022, 38% of all grievances on NCH pertained to e-commerce. Major categories of consumer grievances in e-commerce include delivery of defective product, failure to refund of paid amount, delay in delivery of product etc.
CCPA has also issued Safety Notices under Section 18(2)(j) of the Act to alert and caution consumers against buying goods which do not hold valid ISI Mark and violate compulsory BIS standards. While the first Safety Notice was issued with regard to Helmets, Pressure Cookers and Cooking gas cylinders, the second Safety Notice was issued with regard to household goods including electric immersion water heaters, sewing machines, microwave ovens, domestic gas stoves with LPG etc.