Nykaa. Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon, Delhi HC
Nykaa. Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon, Delhi HC
Litigation News

All e-commerce entities under an obligation to display 'country of origin' of imported products: Centre tells Delhi HC

Meanwhile, the e-commerce platform Snapdeal has submitted that the Legal Metrology Act does not contemplate the regulation of e-commerce entities.

Aditi Singh

The Central Government has stated before the Delhi High Court that under Rule 6(10) of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, all E-Commerce entities are under an obligation to ensure that the country of origin of imported products is displayed on its platform. (Amit Shukla vs UOI & Ors)

The statement forms part of the affidavit submitted by the Central Government in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to ensure that the manufacturing country's name is displayed on products being sold on e-commerce websites.

In response to the petition, the Central Government has said,

..the declaration of country of origin on the pre-packaged commodity or on the digital and electronic network used for e-commerce transactions is required in case of an imported product and if the product is manufactured indigenously, country of origin may not be mentioned on the product.
Central Government

Praying for the dismissal of the PIL, the Central Government informed the Court that all the necessary actions have been taken and necessary advisory/direction to all e-commerce entities have already been issued to ensure the compliance of the provisions of the Legal Metrology Act & its Rules.

Whenever violations are observed, action is taken by the Legal Metrology officials of the State Governments and Union Territories in accordance with the Law, it is added.

Central Government has informed that the Controllers of Legal Metrology of all States/ UTs have been requested to ensure implementation of the provisions of Act & Rules in the interest of consumers.

The affidavit is filed through Standing Counsel Ajay Digpaul.

E-commerce not covered under the Legal Metrology Act: Snapdeal

Meanwhile, e-commerce platform Snapdeal has submitted before the High Court that the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 (LM Act) does not contemplate the regulation of e-commerce entities or the regulation of any listings on e-commerce platforms.

In its affidavit, Snapdeal has asserted that to say that all e-commerce platforms are liable to make certain disclosures under the LM Act is "highly questionable".

When the Act does not regulate product information per se or the e-commerce platforms, it is unclear how the Central Government could introduce Rules in the Packaged Commodities Rules, particularly Rule 6(10), to bring e-commerce entities within the ambit of legal metrology laws.

Government has tried to invoke powers under the LM Act to mandate that e-commerce entities must ensure that the product information displayed on labels affixed to physical packages is also displayed electronically/digitally on their platforms, the same ex facie travel beyond the ambit of the parent enactment i.e., the LM Act and are hence ultra vires.

In any event, the Packaged Commodities Rules cannot be read in such a manner as would effectively compel an ‘intermediary’ under the Information Technology Act to demand disclosure of data by users of its marketplace, it is stated.

Snapdeal has informed that without prejudice to its rights under the law, it has anyway ensured that a data field pertaining to “country of origin/ manufacture/ assembly” is specifically available on its system, which may be filled in by a seller at the time of listing.

A seller of products can, therefore, at his own risk and option, choose to leave the field pertaining to ‘country of origin/manufacture/assembly’ blank, it is stated.

Snapdeal has also responded to the Petitioner's assertion that due to the “aggression of the neighbour (Republic of China)” many citizens would not want to buy any Chinese products.

..these allegations are entirely far-fetched, hypothetical and unfounded; the Petitioner’s personal views with respect to Chinese products may not necessarily be shared by a vast majority of the country, including Indian retailers/sellers who have already lawfully purchased Chinese-origin goods to the tune of several crores of rupees, and are keen to sell their inventory in the Indian market. The Petitioner has lost sight of the fact that the Government has not taken any policy decision to ban imports from China, and hence every Indian citizen is free to continue to import and sell 40 Chinese goods in the Indian market lawfully, without being discriminated against for doing so.

Claiming that the PIL is motivated and devoid of any merit, Snapdeal has argued that increasing the compliance burden on businesses offering products on e-commerce platforms is likely to prove detrimental to the broader public interest.

Snapdeal has filed the affidavit through Keystone Partners.

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