Context: To protect consumers’ interest, the Centre has proposed guidelines for e-commerce firms.
- It entail a 14-day deadline to effect refund request, mandate e-tailers to display details of sellers supplying goods and services on their websites and moot the procedure to resolve consumer complaints.
- e-commerce firms should be a registered legal entity under Indian laws and should submit a self-declaration to the ministry stating that it is conforming to guidelines.
- A promoter or key management personnel should not have been convicted of any criminal offence punishable with five years imprisonment.
- The companies should also comply with the provisions of IT Rules, 2011. They are also required to display on their websites details about sellers supplying goods and services.
- The companies should not adopt any unfair methods, falsely represent themselves as consumers, post reviews about goods and services in their name or exaggerate the quality of goods and services
- To ensure transparency in dealing, the companies are required to display terms of contract between them and the seller to enable consumers to make informed decisions.
- They should also mention safety and health care information of the goods and service advertised for sale and give information on payment methods.
- The companies are required to effect all payments towards accepted refund requests of the customers within a period of maximum of 14 days.
- On seller’s liabilities, the norms proposed sellers to display total as well as break up price for the goods or service including charges like delivery, postage and taxes.
- Sellers should also comply with mandatory display requirements as per Legal Metrology (amendment) rules 2017 for pre-packaged commodities.
- e-commerce companies will also be required to ensure that personally identifiable information of customers is protected.
- Such data collection and storage and use comply with provisions of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008.
- The consumer affairs ministry has sought views of stakeholders on the draft guidelines on e-commerce by September 16.
- Meanwhile, the government is planning to come out with a national e-commerce policy to facilitate achieving holistic growth of the sector.
E-Commerce industry in India:
- The e-commerce sector in India has been witnessing an explosive growth fuelled by the increase in the number of online users, growing penetration of smart phones and the rising popularity of social media platforms.
- According to a February 2019 Morgan Stanley report, India is adding one Internet user every three seconds and the e-commerce sector in India is estimated to reach USD 230 billion by 2028, accounting for 10% of India’s retail.