Ministry of Consumer Affairs seeks comments on proposed changes to electronic communication rules

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has proposed to modify the 2020 Consumer Protection (Electronic Commerce) rules making it compulsory for electronic commerce entities to register with the Ministry for the Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), to strengthen the standards of the country of origin for imported products. goods, as well as for flash sales, among other provisions.

He invited public comments on these proposed changes until July 6.

According to the proposal, every e-commerce entity operating in India will need to register with DPIIT and ensure that the registration number is prominently displayed on its platforms.

With regard to imported goods and services, it stipulates that the name and contact details of the importer from whom the goods were purchased or of the seller must be mentioned and that the goods must also be identified according to their country of origin. origin at the pre-purchase stage. He also proposed that e-merchants suggest alternatives of domestic products to imported products at the time the products are considered for purchase by consumers, in addition to providing a ranking for the products and ensuring that the ranking parameters do not discriminate against domestic products and sellers.

Flash sales

The proposal also states that e-commerce companies will not be able to conduct flash sales on their platform, if they are conducted with the intention of only allowing a specified seller or group of sellers to sell goods and products. services and fraudulently intercept the normal course of business using technological means.

Emergency responsibility

“No e-commerce entity will engage in abusive sales of any goods or services offered on its platform. An e-commerce entity that cross-sells goods or services must provide adequate information (name of the entity providing data for cross-selling and data of that entity used for cross-selling) to its displayed users. prominently in an accessible on its platform ”, he specifies. “A marketplace e-commerce entity is subject to fallback liability when a seller registered on its platform fails to deliver goods or services ordered by a consumer due to negligent conduct, omission or of the commission of an act of this seller in fulfilling the duties and responsibilities in the manner prescribed by the marketplace electronic commerce entity which causes loss to the consumer, ”he added.

They will also need to ensure that related parties and associated businesses are not listed as sellers, and e-commerce businesses cannot sell to a registered seller either. At the same time, e-commerce businesses will need to ensure that sponsored listings of products and services are clearly identified with clear and prominent information, depending on the proposed changes.

E-commerce businesses will also need to appoint a compliance officer to ensure compliance with the law and consumer protection rules, a nodal contact person for coordination with law enforcement agencies, and a resident agent. grievances. The name and contact number of the grievance officer and the grievance mechanism shall be prominently displayed on the platform and that officer will receive and acknowledge receipt of any order, advice or instruction issued by the government or authorities. , he says.

Archana Tewary, Partner, J Sagar Associates, said: “By requiring e-commerce entities to register with DPIIT and appoint a Compliance Officer, Node Manager and Grievance Officer who are citizens (and residents) India, the proposed rules aim to hold e-commerce entities operating in India accountable.

“The proposed rules also aim to mandate the sharing of information by e-commerce entities with government authorities within 72 hours. In addition, the proposed rules require e-commerce marketplaces to ensure that none of its related parties and associated companies are registered as a seller for direct sale to consumers – the definition of associated companies also appears to be broad. These changes are far-reaching and will have important implications, ”she added.

Welcoming the new proposals, the Confederation of All Indian Traders said this is interpreted as the government’s first logical step to create a level playing field.

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