In what might be good news for the offline firecracker market in India this Diwali, the Supreme Court has forbidden ecommerce companies, such as Amazon, Flipkart, and others, from selling firecrackers online across India. According to the latest directive of the Supreme Court, not only are licensed operators the only ones who can sell firecrackers, but their sale online is completely banned.
The bench, which constituted of Justices A. K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, also said that any ecommerce platform found not complying with the issued rule will face contempt of court charges along with monetary penalties.
“No e-commerce websites, including Flipkart, Amazon etc., shall accept any online orders and effect online sales. Any such ecommerce companies found selling crackers online will be hauled up for contempt of court, and the Court may also pass, in that eventuality, orders of monetary penalties as well,” ET quoted the bench as saying.
Inc42 quoted Radhika Ghai, Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder of Shopclues, “Honouring the Supreme Court’s verdict, ShopClues has informed merchants not to list or sell firecrackers through the platform. We will be maintaining strict vigil and any merchant caught selling firecrackers will be reported to the authorities and will be banned from transacting on our marketplace”.
According to an October 2015 report by IndianOnlineSellers, because of strict license laws, many firecracker retailers approached online platforms with the aim of increasing their reach. According to reports, grocery retailers like BigBasket were selling nearly 44 firework products on its platform.
Url pages displaying firecrackers on Flipkart and Snapdeal have now been taken down. Online platforms, such as crackermart, buyonlinecrackers, mycrackers.com, patakewala.com, FestiveZone and the Cock Brand, were offering firecrackers online until last year. However, as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s order, the platform has now been shut down with immediate effect.
The fireworks market in the whole of India is estimated to be worth a million dollars at least, which is still mostly ruled by the traditional offline segment. When the Supreme Court gave orders of completely banning firecrackers only in Delhi in October 2017, Sivakasi, one of Tamil Nadu’s fireworks manufacturing hubs, revealed a projected loss of over USD 136.4 million (INR 1000 Cr).
“The Supreme Court was supposed to ban it. It was for the safety and protection of people. We accept the ban. We just have four to five percent sale online, a majority of the sales are from our offline stores,” MoneyControl quoted Alok Arora, founder of Patakawala.com.