E-commerce giants – Amazon and Flipkart – have been issued notices by the country’s drug regulator DCGI for allegedly selling “spurious and adulterated” cosmetics including imported brands, and have been warned of penal actions in case of failing to respond within 10 days.
The notice from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) follows raids by drug inspectors at various locations across the country on October 5-6, during which they found that some indigenously manufactured cosmetics without valid manufacturing licence and having ingredients imported without necessary registration certificates were being sold on the e-commerce platforms.
The law provides for penal actions ranging from monetary fine to imprisonment for sale of such “unapproved” products. When contacted, an Amazon India spokesperson said the company takes strict action against sellers of “illegal or fake products” as and when such incidents are reported to it.
“Amazon.in is a third-party marketplace which enables sellers to list their products for sale to Indian customers. Sellers on Amazon.in own their respective products and are responsible for product compliances, as may be applicable.
“Amazon.in has a very high bar of customer experience and does take strict action against sellers who are selling illegal or fake products…in accordance with the due process of law, as and when such incidents are reported to us,” the spokesperson said.
Among cosmetics being sold by these websites included imported brands without valid documents and containing ingredients in the “negative list” of the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards).
Asking the companies to reply to its notice within 10 days, the DGCI has warned them of penal action for “offering for sale, sale and distribution of spurious, adulterated cosmetics and cosmetics manufactured without valid licence in contravention of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.”
“In case, you fail to submit the reply within the stipulate period, it will be presumed that you have no reply to offer and appropriate action as deemed fit will be initiated against you,” DCGI S Eswara Reddy said in the notice. Under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, it is mandatory to get a registration certificate for import of cosmetics into India, while all cosmetics manufactured in the country need to have a valid licence.
Besides, cosmetics need to conform to the standards laid down by the BIS and cannot have any ingredient mentioned in its negative list. A similar notice was also issued to the Indiamart, another e-commerce website, Reddy said. Reactions from Flipkart and Indiamart were not immediately available.
Illegal cosmetics estimated to be worth Rs 4 crore were seized during pan-India raids carried out after which the central drug regulator lodged five FIRs across three cities – Mumbai, Pune and Delhi – against manufacturers who were making these cosmetics without licence.
Asserting that the raids revealed the extent of illegal cosmetics in the market, Reddy also cautioned against purchase of such products.