On 1st July 2020, the High Court of Delhi asked the Centre to reply to a petition pursuing instructions to be published for e-commerce websites like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. to show the ‘country of origin’ of all the goods sold on the website so that everyone can abide by the government’s request to buy goods that are solely made in India.
This plea has been brought forward at a time during which India is seeking to avoid imports that originate from China. This is due to the increasing tensions at the border between India and China.
A Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shankar published notices to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as well as to some of the major e-commerce platforms which included Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Ajio, Nykaa, and Decathlon.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had also recently banned 59 Chinese mobile applications including the major social media platform TikTok, over several concerns of privacy and security of data. This included allegations of China hacking and taking information through these apps.
The petition, which was filed by Ajay Shukla, sought for the center to instruct e-commerce platforms to abide by the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules, that were amended recently in 2017, which make it necessary for e-commerce platforms to show the “name of the country of origin or manufacture or assembly”.
“In 2017 there was an amendment made to the Legal Metrology Act, and that amendment mandated that every e-commerce company publish the country of origin, this has not been complied with for the last three years.”, Ajay Shukla said in a statement.
Over the course of the previous week, the e-commerce platforms had a meeting with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), during the course of which, these platforms had come to a consensus to show the country of origin and manufacture of products which were sold on their platforms and had asked for a period of 4-5 months’ to abide by this rule.
Even though Amazon and Flipkart, leading e-commerce platforms in India, have agreed to show the required details under the rule on the website as well as their mobile applications, they stated that bring the existing listings up to date would be a hard task. They wanted that the onus of this rule should not lie on them. Individual sellers should rather be on the individual sellers who list these products on the E-commerce platforms.
The petition opined that it was mandatory for e-commerce websites, especially at a time like this, to show clearly the country where the products were made or manufactured, which were sold through their platforms. This is because there is a huge number of Indian citizens who wish to support the government’s appeal to promote and buy Indian goods.
“(The) economy of the entire nation would suffer in the event the e-commerce websites continue not to mention the manufacturing country/country of origin of products in the e-commerce websites,” the petition stated.
The petition also sought that the Ministry of Commerce must make sure that e-commerce platforms show those products that were made in India at the top of searches, before showing the listings of those products that were manufactured in other countries.