In a bid to regulate e-tailers in better ways, the Indian government has decided to issue fresh guidelines for the e-Commerce platforms in the country and enforce stricter norms while the prospect of the much-talked-about flash sales getting banned looms large. A slew of amendments has been proposed under the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 to protect the interests of customers and encourage free and fair competition in the market, said the Consumer Affairs Ministry, seeking comments from relevant stakeholders by July 6.
According to the new draft regulations, no e-commerce company shall be permitted to display or promote any misleading advertisements, whether in the course of business on its website or otherwise.
Furthermore, if the regulations come into effect, every e-commerce must set up an adequate grievance redressal mechanism to deal with the number of grievances received by e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart etc.
All e-commerce sites will have to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), a Resident Grievance Officer (RGO) and a nodal contact person in India, as per the draft.
Besides, every e-commerce company will have to:
- Register itself with DPIIT if it plans to operate in India Suggest Indian alternatives for foreign-made goods at the pre-purchase stage
- Make sure sponsored listings are identifiable
- Ensure no logistic service provider offers distinguished treatment involving the same category of sellers
- Offer adequate disclosure if engaged in cross-selling
Also, the e-com firms are not permitted to:
- Mislead consumers by manipulating search results
- Advertise a body of sellers for subsidizing a sale on its platform
- Share consumer information without their consent
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which has for long demanded tougher e-commerce rules to safeguard the interest of offline traders, has hailed the draft norms. Praveen Khandelwal, CAIT Secretary General termed the new draft as a “guiding stone to purify e-commerce landscape of the country that has been widely vitiated by several global e-commerce firms to the extent that not only the domestic trade has been damaged but also even the consumers are also feeling the heat of their unethical business practices.”
He added that the CAIT will study the new draft norms in depth and will soon submit its comments.