Supreme Court: Apple has no duty to Trace Stolen iPhones


LI Network

Published on: February 20, 2024 at 16:35 IST

The Supreme Court has refuted an assertion by the Odisha State Consumer Commission that Apple India holds the responsibility to trace a stolen iPhone using its unique identity number.

The Court declared the commission’s observation as “unwarranted.”

A bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Satish Chandra Sharma addressed an appeal by Apple India against the Consumer Commission’s order related to a complaint about a stolen iPhone.

Although Apple India complied with compensating the complainant as directed by the commission, it objected to the notion that it has an obligation to track stolen phones, stating that such expectations could transform the company into a “law-enforcing agency for recovering lost products” it markets.

The State Commission’s order, specifically Paragraph 14, suggested that it was Apple India’s duty to take steps to locate the stolen mobile based on a unique identity number provided for such situations.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that the complainant had already been compensated by Apple India for the loss caused by the theft of the iPhone. Dismissing the unwarranted observation contained in the State Commission’s order, the Supreme Court directed the removal of Paragraph 14.

“Having considered the submissions and having perused the above paragraph, we feel that the said observations were not warranted. Accordingly, we direct that paragraph 14 shall stand obliterated from the order dated 26th November 2020 of the State Commission,” stated the Supreme Court.


In this case, the complainant purchased an Apple iPhone with theft coverage. After the iPhone was stolen, the complainant filed an FIR and notified Apple India about the theft.

When no action was taken, the complainant approached the District Consumer Forum, which directed Apple India to pay for the handset, Rs. 40,000 as compensation, and Rs. 5,000 for litigation costs.

Apple India appealed this decision before the State Commission, which rejected the appeal and included the observation about Apple’s duty to trace stolen iPhones.

The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) also dismissed the revision application, leading Apple India to file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court challenging the NCDRC’s decision.

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