[The following update has been brought to you by Geetanjali Kamat, who is the Founder-Editor at IRCCL.]
The Department of Consumer Affairs has sought views of stakeholders on the Consumer Protection (e-Commerce) Guidelines 2018 (Guidelines) the latest by 16 September 2019.
The Guidelines, applicable to B2C e-commerce in relation to goods and services (including digital content products), define an ‘e-commerce entity’ to mean a company incorporated under the Companies Act; or a foreign company (as defined under the Companies Act); or an office, branch or agency in India (as provided in the FEMA, 1999) owned or controlled by a person resident outside India, and includes an electronic service provider or a partnership or proprietary firm, whether inventory or market place model or both and conducting the e-commerce business. However, an e-commerce entity does not include any business notified otherwise by the government.
Every e-commerce entity is required to comply with certain conditions specified under the Guidelines which include the following:
getting itself registered as a legal entity under the Indian laws;
submitting a self-declaration to the Department of Consumer Affairs stating that it is in compliance with the Guidelines;
not having promoters / key managerial personnel who have been convicted of any criminal offence punishable with imprisonment, in the last 5 years, by any court of competent jurisdiction; and
displaying information about the sellers who supply goods and services on the website of the e-commerce entity.
The e-commerce entity is required to (a) publish on its website, the name of the Grievance Officer and his contact details; (b) publish on its website, the mechanism by which customers can notify their complaints about products and services availed through the website of such e-commerce entity; (c) provide consumers with transparent and effective consumer protection that is not less than the level of protection offered in other forms of commerce; and (d) provide mechanism / system to converge with NCH in grievance redress process.