Safety Notice Alerting Consumers Against Purchase Of Acid On E-Commerce Platforms

  • Issued by The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), headed by Chief Commissioner, Mrs. Nidhi Khare.
  • Notice issued under Section 18(2) (j) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Back Ground:

  • The availability of hazardous acids in a freewheeling and easily accessible manner can be dangerous and unsafe for consumers.
  • ‘Consumer rights’ under Section 2(9) of the Act, include the right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products or services which are hazardous to life and property and the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods, products or services, as the case may be, to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices.
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Laxmi vs. Union of India [W.P. (Crl.) No. 129 of 2006], has issued directions which are required to be complied, with concerning the sale of acid and other corrosive substances.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued guidelines dated 30th August 2013 to all States/UTs on ‘Measures to be taken to prevent acid attacks on people and for treatment and rehabilitation of survivors’.

Guidelines include the following actions:

  1. Banning the over-the-counter sale of acid/corrosives unless the seller maintains a logbook/register recording the sale of acid which will contain the details of the person(s) to whom acid(s) is/are sold and the quantity sold. The log/register shall also contain the address of the person to whom it is sold.
  2. A sale will be made only when the buyer produces a photo ID issued by the Government which also has the address of the person and proves that he/she is above 18 years of age.
  3. The logbook/register should also specify the reason/purpose for procuring acid.
  4. All stocks of acid must be declared by the seller with the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) within 15 days and in case of undeclared stock of acid, it will be open to the concerned SDM to confiscate the stock and suitably impose a fine on such seller up to Rs. 50,000/-
  5. The concerned SDM may impose a fine of up to Rs.50, 000/- on any person who commits a breach of any of the above directions. Educational institutions, research laboratories, hospitals, Government Departments and the departments of Public Sector Undertakings, who are required to keep and store acid/corrosive shall maintain a register of usage of acid and the same shall be filed with the concerned SDM.
  6. A person shall be made accountable for the possession and safekeeping of acid in their premises. The acid shall be stored under the supervision of this person and there shall be compulsory checking of the students/ personnel leaving the laboratories/place of storage where acid is used.

The Issues:

  • Neither there is any requirement to produce a Photo ID issued by the Government, nor there is any manner in which the purpose of buying the acid is recorded by the e-commerce platforms before placing an order.
  • There is no actual mechanism by which age verification of the buyer takes place before placing the order.
  • It is a clear violation of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and the MHA Advisory.
  • The sale of corrosive acid is enabled by a mere click of a button.
  • It can cause consumers and the public at large to be left vulnerable, unprotected and unsafe, given that the product is capable of causing severe dermal corrosion.

Rules:

As per Section 4 (3) of Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, no e-commerce entity shall adopt.

Posted in Current Affairs.