Bivas
Latest Consumer Protection and E-Commerce Law in India
Bivas Chatterjee 19 Aug 2020

Latest Consumer Protection and E-Commerce Law in India

Today, the major portion of consumers in India like the other developed and developing countries are purchasing or availing goods or services or attempting to purchase goods or services through the cyber world. On the above score, e-commerce industry has thrived its best in the last few years. Specially, in the present situation of prolonged lockdown, testing the very existence of civilization, when people are hardly going out of their houses or avoiding direct purchase from the physical market or the physical world, the business of the e-commerce industry is reaching its pinnacle. People at large in the society are purchasing goods or services through various online platforms which may be either direct e-commerce entity or market place of e-commerce entity. Everyday majority of contract are made through virtual world wherein some or every part of a valid contract is executed through virtual world. Though, the previous Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and our existing Contract Act does not provide any opportunity to lawfully adjudicate the consumer disputes or disputes relating to an online contract taking place in the virtual world, the Information Technology Act provides the following provision to somehow manage the situation which is as follows – 


Section 10A: Validity of contracts formed through electronic means. -Where in a contract formation, the communication of proposals, the acceptance of proposals, the revocation of proposals and acceptances, as the case may be, are expressed in electronic form or by means of an electronic record, such contract shall not be deemed to be unenforceable solely on the ground that such electronic form or means was used for that purpose. 


But still, we need a complete and appropriate legislature or statute to address the herculean tasks of proper adjudication of transactions in cyber world where consumers are more vulnerable than the real physical world as there is every bit of possibility in the virtual world that the entity representing themselves as a product seller or service provider may be fake or having false identity. And in the anonymous world it was more difficult to fix up the liability where the address, place of business etc. are absolutely virtual and not physical. In the above backdrop a well codified or a drafted law or statute was the need of the hour and to address the above issue we recently got the following law which is worth mentioning - 

(1) Consumer Protection Act, 2019: 

The following provisions are worth mentioning in light of today’s discussion: 

SECTION 2: Definitions - In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, 

(1) "advertisement" means any audio or visual publicity, representation, endorsement or pronouncement made by means of light, sound, smoke, gas, print, electronic media, internet or website and includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper, invoice or such other documents; 

7) "consumer" means any person who— 

(i) buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such use is made with the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; or 

(ii) hires or avails of any service for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such service other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person, but does not include a person who avails of such service for any commercial purpose. 

Explanation. —For the purposes of this clause — 

(a) the expression "commercial purpose" does not include use by a person of goods bought and used by him exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood, by means of self-employment; 

(b) the expressions "buys any goods" and "hires or avails any services" includes offline or online transactions through electronic means or by teleshopping or direct selling or multi-level marketing; 

(16) "e-commerce" means buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over digital or electronic network; 

(17) "electronic service provider" means a person who provides technologies or processes to enable a product seller to engage in advertising or selling goods or services to a consumer and includes any online market place or online auction sites;

(37) "product seller", in relation to a product, means a person who, in the course of business, imports, sells, distributes, leases, installs, prepares, packages, labels, markets, repairs, maintains, or otherwise is involved in placing such product for commercial purpose and includes— 

(i) a manufacturer who is also a product seller; or 

(ii) a service provider, 

but does not include— 

(a) a seller of immovable property, unless such person is engaged in the sale of constructed house or in the construction of homes or flats; 

(b) a provider of professional services in any transaction in which, the sale or use of a product is only incidental thereto, but furnishing of opinion, skill or services being the essence of such transaction; 

(c) a person who— 

(I) acts only in a financial capacity with respect to the sale of the product; 

(II) is not a manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer, direct seller or an electronic service provider; 

…………………………………………………………

(47) "unfair trade practice" means a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or unfair or deceptive practice including any of the following practices, namely:— 

(i) making any statement, whether orally or in writing or by visible representation including by means of electronic record, which— 

SECTION 17 : Complaints to authorities.- A complaint relating to violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices or false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of consumers as a class, may be forwarded either in writing or in electronic mode, to any one of the authorities, namely, the District Collector or the Commissioner of regional office or the Central Authority. 

SECTION 35: Manner in which complaint shall be made. – 

………………………………………………………………

(2) Every complaint filed under sub-section (1) shall be accompanied with such fee and payable in such manner, including electronic form, as may be prescribed. 

SECTION 38: Procedure on admission of complaint. – 

(4) For the purposes of sub-sections (2) and (3), the District Commission may, by order, require an electronic service provider to provide such information, documents or records, as may be specified in that order. 

SECTION 65 : Service of notice, etc. - (1) All notices, required by this Act to be served, shall be served by delivering or transmitting a copy thereof by registered post acknowledgment due addressed to opposite party against whom complaint is made or to the complainant by speed post or by such courier service, approved by the District Commission, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, or by any other mode of transmission of documents including electronic means. 

(2) Without prejudice to the provisions contained in sub-section (1), the notice required by this Act may be served on an electronic service provider at the address provided by it on the electronic platform from where it provides its services as such and for this purpose, the electronic service provider shall designate a nodal officer to accept and process such notices. 

SECTION 94: Measures to prevent unfair trade practices in e-commerce, direct selling, etc. - For the purposes of preventing unfair trade practices in e-commerce, direct selling and also to protect the interest and rights of consumers, the Central Government may take such measures in the manner as may be prescribed. 

SECTION 101: Power of Central Government to make rules. - (1) The Central Government may, by notification, make rules for carrying out any of the provisions contained in this Act. 

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for, — 

………………………………………………………………
(q) the fee, electronic form and the manner of payment of fee for filing complaint under sub-section (2) of section 35; 

The above provision in the newly passed Act includes within the ambit of consumer protection law, the transactions by consumer in the virtual world. This statute is also meant to protect the consumers dealing in online world. 

(2) Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020: 

The following provisions of the Rule provide the ambit of the Rule and amongst that the most important is the proviso clause which is as follows – 

“2. Scope and Applicability. – (1) Save as otherwise expressly provided by the Central Government by notification, these rules shall apply to: 

(a) all goods and services bought or sold over digital or electronic network including digital products; 

(b) all models of e-commerce, including marketplace and inventory models of e-commerce; 

(c) all e-commerce retail, including multi-channel single brand retailers and single brand retailers in single or multiple formats; and 

(d) all forms of unfair trade practices across all models of e-commerce: 

Provided that these rules shall not apply to any activity of a natural person carried out in a personal capacity not being part of any professional or commercial activity undertaken on a regular or systematic basis. .....................................for details please read as follows:

Latest Consumer Protection Law to Safeguard Online Consumers In Indian

Mobile App on the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 & E-Commerce Law, 2020

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Did you find this write up useful? YES 2 NO 0
Sisir Kumar Dey   23 Aug 2020 7:12pm
Useful know how
Reply
  24 Aug 2020 2:41pm
Thanks : https://www.cyberchatterjee.com/
Reply
Prasanta Kumar Bhaduri   23 Aug 2020 7:03pm
Very useful in this prolonged pandemic situation throughout the INDIA. Thanks a lot.
Reply
  24 Aug 2020 2:40pm
Thanks .......
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