Smartphone sales to remain suspended until May 3 as Govt of India revises e-commerce guidelines

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Updated: Apr 20, 2020 1:41 PM

The revised guidelines come days after the Government of India announced that it would ease the restrictions on e-commerce websites, allowing them to operate, from April 20.

smartphoneSmartphones, laptops and PCs fall under the category of non-essential goods. (Photo credit: Reuters)

E-commerce websites Flipkart, Amazon and others are prohibited from selling non-essential goods until May 3, according to fresh guidelines released by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Sunday. The revised guidelines come days after the Government of India announced that it would ease the restrictions on e-commerce websites, allowing them to operate, from April 20.

“Digital economy is critical to the services sector and is important for national growth. Accordingly, e-commerce operations, operations of IT and IT enabled services, data and call centres for Government activities, and online teaching and distance learning are all permitted activities now,” the MHA had said in a statement on April 16, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation announcing the extension of the Coronavirus lockdown until May 3.

The “E-commerce companies. Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions,” clause was removed from the MHA guidelines on Sunday, barring the sales of non-essential goods on these platforms during the lockdown.

Since smartphones, laptops and PCs fall under the category of non-essential goods, e-commerce websites like Flipkart, Amazon and others can’t commence their sales from April 20. Popular brands like Realme and Xiaomi had been cueing up their launches and sales operations, ahead of April 20. While Realme was gearing to launch its new Narzo series of budget smartphones in India on April 21, Xiaomi had already started taking orders on its e-commerce website, aka Mi.com/in, with shipping to commence from April 20. OnePlus is similarly expected to reveal the India price of the newly launched OnePlus 8 Pro and OnePlus 8 later tonight.

Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain has already taken to Twitter to confirm that the company is studying the fresh guidelines, and it will be out with an update soon. “We will of course follow all Government guidelines,” Jain added.

Realme has meanwhile said that a final decision about the Narzo series India launch will be made by April 20. “Realme was planning to start online sales of its smartphones from April 20 and launch its Narzo series on April 21 through e-commerce platforms. But bearing in mind the current order from MHA, we are evaluating the situation and decision about the launch of the much-awaited Narzo series and online sales of our other smartphones will be made by tomorrow” a Realme spokesperson said in a statement given out to the Financial Express Online, adding that “we will follow the Government directives issued in best interests of the people.”

Update: Realme has postponed the Narzo series India launch indefinitely in alignment with the order shared by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India on the prohibition of the supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies.

Oppo India is also monitoring the whole situation and it will take measures in adherence to the Government’s guidelines. “As a socially responsible corporate, we feel that the safety of people is utmost important,” an Oppo spokesperson said in a statement.

With the fresh guidelines in place, e-commerce websites are permitted to sell only essential goods like food, pharmaceuticals and medical devices — until further notice.

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