E-Commerce Must Show Products’ Country of Origin: Centre to Delhi High Court

The Central government on Wednesday submitted before the Delhi High Court that the declaration of the country of origin on pre-packaged commodities used for e-commerce transactions is required in case of imported products.

The Centre made the submission in an affidavit filed on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to mandate displaying the name of the manufacturing country on the products at e-commerce websites.

“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,” the affidavit said.

The Department of Consumer affairs, while opposing the PIL, said that directions have already been issued to all e-commerce entities to ensure the compliance of the provisions of the concerned rules and acts.

The affidavit submitted that it has also been requested to display the country of origin on the digital and electronic network used for e-commerce transactions.

A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan posted the matter for further hearing on September 2 after several other respondents sought time to file a reply in the matter. Apart from the Union of India, only Snapdeal filed the reply today.

E-commerce platform Snapdeal, in its affidavit, submitted that imposing onerous and unnecessary requirements upon sellers operating on the online marketplace amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already impacted the economy, will further negatively impact bona fide businesses, the Indian economy, and also consumers’ interest.

“Increasing the compliance burden on businesses offering products on e-commerce platforms is likely to prove detrimental to the broader public interest,” Snapdeal submitted.

The plea, filed by Advocate Amit Shukla, submitted that in 2017, Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 was amended and a mandate was inserted to publish the country of origin/manufacture in the e-commerce website.

However, the same was never enforced for the e-commerce companies, it added.

The plea said that when a large number of Indian citizens intend to comply with the government”s appeal to promote and buy Indian goods in order to strengthen the nation, it has become essential that the e-commerce websites conspicuously display the country of manufacturing/origin for all products sold through such platforms.

Shukla has made all e-commerce companies including Amazon, Snapdeal, and Flipkart, etc parties in the PIL.

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