E-commerce sales: On Country of origin, Supreme Court seeks Centre’s view

By: |
July 25, 2020 4:30 AM

A Bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde sought response from the ministry of commerce and others on the petition filed by counsel Divya Jyoti Singh asking for ‘country of origin’ of products to be easily visible to the customers like a proper size that makes it legible for consumers to read it.

The main aim is to identify items coming from China in the backdrop of violent stand-off at Galwan.

The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre on a PIL seeking directions to the government to formulate a law that will make it mandatory for e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc, and businesses to “disclose and display the country of origin of all goods sold in India” so that customers can take an informed decision.

A Bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde sought response from the ministry of commerce and others on the petition filed by counsel Divya Jyoti Singh asking for ‘country of origin’ of products to be easily visible to the customers like a proper size that makes it legible for consumers to read it.

“Non-disclosure of the ‘country of origin’ should attract stringent provisions”, it said, adding that online shopping has become a trend owing to the development of these web portals and outbreak of the Covid pandemic that has made it convenient to shop online. “… with such rapid growth of the e-commerce or digital shopping business, it is very important that the consumers interest be safeguarded,” Singh contended.

This comes close on the heels of government procurement portal Government e-Marketplace (GeM) making it mandatory for sellers to declare ‘country of origin’ on products so as to promote the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative. Last month, the GeM also enabled a provision for the sellers to indicate the percentage of local content in products. The main aim is to identify items coming from China in the backdrop of violent stand-off at Galwan.

While stating that if the country of origin is not disclosed that may become a blockade to promote local manufacturing, Singh further seeks directions to amend the Section 2 (9) of the Consumer Protection Act, with an addition that it should also include the right of the consumer to know the origin of the product.

“There is a wave flowing in the country for boycotting the Chinese products, by non-disclosure of the ‘Country of Origin’ on the web-portals, these giant business houses/e-commerce portals are not only playing with the patriotic feelings of the Indians but also are proving fatal in the efforts of each and every citizen of India in boycotting the Chinese products,” the petition added.

“As on today, when the entire country is united and standing together showing allegiance to the motherland, as an effect of the loss of lives of our soldiers owing the India-Chinese conflict in the Ladakh region and thus are running a nationwide campaign pertaining to the boycott of all the Chinese products/applications like Tiktok, etc through which China generate revenue,” Singh said.

The consumers are often kept in the dark on the huge imports from China, which are largely junk, by not disclosing the country of origin, it added.

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