The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has taken a firm stand against Amitabh Bachchan and e-commerce giant Flipkart by filing a complaint with the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA). This complaint comes in response to a controversial advertisement that has sparked outrage among India's small retailers.
Misleading Advertisement Sparks Controversy
At the heart of the matter is a commercial featuring Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, who serves as the endorser for Flipkart. CAIT alleges that this advertisement is both misleading and disparaging to small retailers across the country. They argue that the advertisement misrepresents the prices of mobile phones in the Indian smartphone market, which directly affects sellers and suppliers.
Understanding the Legalities
CAIT's complaint is grounded in Section 2(47) of the Consumer Protection Act, which deals with unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements. According to this section, any trade practice that materially misleads the public regarding the price of products or services is considered unfair. In this case, CAIT asserts that Flipkart, through Amitabh Bachchan's endorsement, has misled the public about mobile phone prices in the Indian market.
Demanding Urgent Action
CAIT's National President, B C Bhartia, and Secretary General, Praveen Khandelwal, have made a strong plea to the CCPA. They are demanding immediate action against Flipkart to suspend the controversial advertisement. They argue that such an advertisement can cause further harm to the efforts of India's offline retailers, especially during the upcoming festive season.
"We are writing to you today with a very heavy heart and to express our deep disappointment in Shri Amitabh Bachchan Ji, the biggest movie star of India for openly endorsing Flipkart's misleading and frivolous claim that deals and discounts on mobile phones are not available in offline stores and are only available on Flipkart. This is shown in Annexure 1. We are not disappointed by Flipkart's action because we know that the single reason why Flipkart (and also Amazon) have entered India is to dismantle the traditional retail industry of India by burning cash brought in the form of FDI and they have been undertaking activities against us with this intention since they started operations in India in 2009 and 2013 respectively," CAIT said in its letter to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
What could be the Potential Penalties?
In their complaint, CAIT is not only seeking the suspension of the advertisement but also calling for penalties. They refer to Section 89 of the Consumer Protection Act, which allows for imprisonment for two years and a fine of Rs 10 Lakh in cases of false or misleading advertisements. They are urging the CCPA to apply this provision to both Flipkart and Amitabh Bachchan.
What is the significance of Amitabh Bachchan's endorsement in this dispute?
Amitabh Bachchan's endorsement of Flipkart's advertisement is at the center of the controversy. CAIT argues that his endorsement adds credibility to the misleading claims made in the advertisement.
What are the potential consequences for Flipkart & Amitabh Bachchan if the complaint is upheld?
If the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) upholds the complaint, Flipkart could face suspension of the advertisement and potential penalties under the law, including fines and legal action. Amitabh Bachchan may also face fines if found culpable in endorsing a misleading advertisement.
The Trader Community's Anguish
One of the most significant aspects of this dispute is the sentiment within the trading community. CAIT argues that e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon have entered India with the intent to disrupt the traditional retail industry by infusing foreign direct investment (FDI) and engaging in activities that harm local businesses. They express disappointment in actor Amitabh Bachchan for endorsing an advertisement that they consider far from the truth.
The conflict between CAIT, Amitabh Bachchan, and Flipkart highlights the growing tension between traditional retailers and e-commerce giants in India. The complaint filed with the CCPA is a significant step in addressing what CAIT sees as an unfair and harmful advertising campaign.
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