In a landmark decision, the Malappuram District Consumer Commission ruled that Maruti Suzuki India Limited must refund the entire cost of a car to a customer due to the failure of its airbag system during an accident. The incident, which occurred on June 30, 2021 has raised significant safety concerns and underscores the accountability of manufacturers in India's automotive industry. This article provides details of the incident, the commission's verdict, and the broader implications for automotive safety and accountability.
The Incident: Airbag Malfunction and Injuries
The critical incident happened when Mohammed Musliar, residing in Indianoor, Kerala, experienced a severe accident on June 30, 2021. Shockingly, the car's airbag system failed to deploy, resulting in severe injuries to Musliar. Subsequent investigations by the Motor Vehicle Inspector confirmed that the non-deployment of the airbag was attributed to a manufacturing defect.
Consumer Commission's Verdict: Full Refund and More
The Malappuram District Consumer Commission's decisive ruling mandates Maruti Suzuki to refund the entire purchase price of the vehicle, totaling Rs 4,35,854. Additionally, an extra Rs 20,000 is awarded to cover litigation costs. The commission underscores the significance of automakers adhering to stringent safety standards and emphasizes their responsibility for product integrity. In case the refund is not executed within a month, a nine percent interest penalty has been imposed.
Maruti Suzuki's History with Airbag-Related Recalls
The verdict brings attention to Maruti Suzuki's track record with airbag-related recalls. In January 2023, a voluntary recall was initiated for 17,362 cars due to a potential defect in the airbag controller. Earlier incidents of recalls involved suspected defects in the Airbag Control Unit, possible malfunctions during deployment, damage during the manufacturing process inspection, and software losses affecting airbag controllers.
Implications for Automotive Safety
These incidents and the recent court directive emphasize the critical importance of robust airbag systems and the need for rigorous quality control in the manufacturing process. The decision serves as a stern reminder to automakers to prioritize customer safety and promptly address any issues to prevent harm. The court's intervention establishes a precedent for holding manufacturers accountable for ensuring the effectiveness of safety features, setting a benchmark for safety standards in the automotive industry.