E-commerce giants -Amazon and Flipkart- have been issued notices by the Drug Controller General of India (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.

Drug inspectors made pan-India raids on October 5-6 in which they found that many indigenously manufactured cosmetics were being allowed sale on those e-commerce platforms without valid manufacturing license and were also said to have ingredients imported without submitting any registration certificates for them. Not only this, there were signs that some ingredients in the cosmetics were a part of the “negative list” of the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards).

According to the Drug and Cosmetics Act, it is compulsory to get a registration certificate for the import of cosmetics into India, whereas for all the cosmetics manufactured in the country must possess a valid license for permitting their sale. Along with this, the cosmetics need to conform to the standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and cannot have any ingredient which has been mentioned in its negative list. Any violation of this law would lead to penal actions, which would include punishments that can range from monetary fine to an imprisonment for selling such “unapproved and fake” products.

When contacted, an Amazon India spokesperson told news agency PTI that,”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.

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