Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla in the notification said “sub-clause (v) under clause 14 on commercial and private establishments” has been excluded from the consolidated revised guidelines.
Days after the government had allowed e-commerce companies such as Amazon, Flipkart and others to operate under the current lockdown without stating any distinction between delivery of essential and non-essential goods, it has now revised the order. In its latest notification on Sunday, the Home Affairs Ministry has prohibited the supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies during lockdown 2.0. Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla in the notification to all state chief secretaries and secretaries of ministries and government departments said “sub-clause (v) under clause 14 on commercial and private establishments” has been excluded from the consolidated revised guidelines. The sub-clause (v) referred to “e-commerce companies. Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions.”
The order was tweeted by the ministry’s spokesperson saying “supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies to remain prohibited during lockdown2 to fight Covid-19.” In its April 15, 2020 order, the home ministry had said commercial and private establishments including e-commerce companies will be allowed to operate during the lockdown. As a result, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal others, which were so far delivering essential items only including grocery, healthcare and hygiene products, etc. were preparing to resume their operations on full-scale post April 20.
“CAIT demolished sinister plan of e-commerce Companies to trade in non-essential commodities. Accepting the objection of CAIT, the MHA excluded the permission granted earlier and now e-commerce can trade only in essential commodities,” CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said in a brief statement. Moreover, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said the ‘clarification’ in the decision will create a level playing for small retailers. “Grateful to Hon’ble PM @NarendraModi ji for the clarification that e-commerce companies can only supply essential goods during the lockdown. This will create a level playing field for small retailers,” Goyal tweeted.
Now with the latest amendment to the order, the e-commerce companies would have to continue to sustain the lockdown period on essential items only. “We will continue to operate in complete compliance with the guidelines issued by the government in this regard,” a Snapdeal spokesperson told Financial Express Online in a note. Walmart-owned Flipkart and Snapdeal were supposed to start taking orders for non-essential goods as well, a source had informed Financial Express Online while Amazon had reportedly sought more clarification on the order. “In line with the guidelines announced by the Government of India and also in collaboration with all State Governments & local authorities, we will continue to serve consumers to promote Social Distancing through our sanitised supply chain, contact-less deliveries and safe last-mile delivery process,” a Flipkart spokesperson had said earlier.