By Rupin Chopra and Apalka Bareja
According to a recent survey on “Road Accidents in India- 2021” conducted by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (“MoRTH”), more than 16,000 people died in road accidents on account of not wearing car seat belts of which 8,438 (51.5%) were drivers and the remaining 7,959 (48.5%) were passengers. Furthermore, non-wearing of seat belts caused injuries to 39,231 people with 16,416 of them being drivers and 22,818 being passengers. The survey revealed that young individuals aged between 18 to 45 accounted to more than one-third of all road accident victims.
Seat belts are primarily employed to protect passengers from injuries in the case of an accident and according to Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, it is mandatory for the driver and the person seated in the front seat to wear the seat belts while the vehicle is in motion. Considering the rising incidents of such accidents, several vehicles launched in the past few years have an automated alarm when the passenger or driver have not fastened their seat belts. However, it was noted that e-commerce platforms were selling car seat belt alarm stopper clips which prevented the alarm to ring when car seat belt was not fastened.
Subsequently, on March 29, 2022, the MoRTH highlighted this issue to the Central Consumer Protection Authority (“CCPA”) regarding the sale of car seat belt alarm stopper clips by e-commerce platforms to customers on e-commerce websites and therefore, compromising the safety of customers by stopping the alarm beep when the seat belt is not worn.
On May 10, 2023, the CCPA vide its No. CCPA-19/2023 has issued directions against major e-commerce platforms for selling car seat belt alarm stopper clips on their websites. It has been reported that e-commerce platforms have delisted about 13,118 listings of car seat belt alarm stopper clips from their websites. 
The CCPA is a regulatory authority constituted under Section 10 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers. It is empowered to conduct investigations into violation of consumer rights and institute complaints / prosecution, order recall of unsafe goods and services, order discontinuation of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements, impose penalties on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of misleading advertisements.
Further, according to Rule 4 (3) of the 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. Sale of car seat belt alarm stopper clips by falsely/wrongfully representing the usefulness of such product constitutes to unfair trade practices. Therefore, considering the risk and safety of the consumers, CCPA issued directions to the e-commerce platforms for selling of car seat belt alarm stopper clips on their e-commerce websites and violation of consumer rights and unfair trade practice. Major e-commerce platforms have been directed to permanently delist all car seat belt alarm stopper clips from their websites.
In addition, CCPA has also written to Chief Secretaries and District Collectors to take necessary actions as per law, against the manufacture of car seat belt alarm stopper clips to prevent further loss of life or severe injury to consumers.
It is also advisable to all people that if any person is found violating the laws under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, they may face actions in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. If any consumer finds that a manufacture or seller or e-commerce entity is manufacturing or selling car seat belt alarm stopper clips or other products which compromise the safety of consumers in violation to the above mentioned advisory, a consumer may:
i. Call 1915 or use the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) mobile app to file a complaint with the NCH, which serves as an alternative dispute resolution method before going to court,
ii. Contact the Consumer Commission and file a complaint against the violation of consumer rights and unfair trade practices. The complaint can also be submitted through the e-Daakhil portal www.edaakhil.nic.in for prompt and efficient redressal.
iii. For starting a class action, the complaint may also be sent to the CCPA at email@example.com.
Tithi Agarwal, Intern at S.S. Rana & Co. has assisted in the research of this Article.
Source: Advisory issued by CCPA available here: https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/file-uploads/latestnews/Advisory%20regarding%20Sale%20of%20Car%20Seat%20Belt%20Alarm%20Stopper%20Clips%20.pdf
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