Bivas
Latest ECommerce Law in India
Bivas Chatterjee 22 Apr 2021

Latest ECommerce Law in India

Do you transact through different e-commerce or online platforms? In many cases we heard the complains that the item ordered to buy online or the item of desired quality was not delivered or despite ordering a valuable product for a lot of money, some bricks were found in the packet. According to statista.com, India is the second largest online market in the world and by the year 2022, India's proposed online market will reach close to US $73 billion.

In order to protect yourself or your rights in this situation, you need to have some idea or knowledge about the latest consumer law.

At present, like other developed and developing countries, a large portion of buyers in India are buying or trying to buy products or services through the cyber world. This is why the e-commerce industry has made the best progress in the last few years. Specifically, in the current situation of prolonged lockdown, when the existence of civilization is being tested, when people can't get out of their houses very easily or avoiding purchases directly from the market, the e-commerce business has reached at the pinnacle.

A large segment of our society is directly purchasing products or services through various online platforms using e-commerce entities or e-commerce entities marketplaces. Every day most deals are made through the virtual world wherein some or every part of a valid contract is executed through the virtual world.

However, the previous Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and our existing Contract Act did not provide any legal opportunity for legal disputes related to any online contract in the virtual world. The following provision of the Information Technology Act tries to handle the situation to some extent –

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.

Yet, we need a complete and appropriate law to deal with or properly prosecute dangerous transactions in our cyber world, where the buyers interact with vendors or service providers in virtual worlds at greater risk than in the real world and wherein a large number of them are ready to deceive the buyers in the name of selling products with false identities. In this unknown world, it is more difficult to determine the address of the responsible person, place of business, etc. where everything is absolutely virtual.

This situation requires a well-organized and protected law that will solve the above problem. Recently we have got the following two landmark laws which will play an important role in day-to-day online shopping by consumers at large.  –

1) Consumer Protection Act, 2019

2) Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules, 2020

 

Let us see the gist of some of important provisions of Consumer Protection Act, 2019, hereinbelow –

1) The new law defines a consumer as a person who buys goods or receives services through online electronic media and/or through offline. This means that the current law includes online-trading through all types of electronic media.

2) This law defines e-commerce as a process of purchasing goods or services digitally which occurs through digital or electronics networks.

3) Section 17 of this new law provides for a complaint to the authorities when it violates the rights of the consumer or trades illegally or publishes false misleading advertisements which is against the interest of the customer. In that case the complaint can be lodged in writing or electronically with the District Collector or the appropriate concerned officer.

4)As per Section 35 of this new law, complaint can be lodged through different mediums and even electronic medium as well.

5) Under this new law all notices which need to be sent when approved by the District Commission can be sent in the same manner or electronically as before. In Online notice, in which case the notice will be sent to the electronic service provider who will complete the procedure through a nodal officer.

6) Section 94 of the Act allows the Central Government to take necessary steps to stop dishonest practices on online platforms in the form of e-commerce. In this context, it is important to note that a detailed rule or rules such as the Consumer Protection Rules, e-Commerce Rules, 2020 have been introduced to stop the vicious cycle on e-commerce platforms. That is, in the above provisions of the newly passed Consumer Protection Act, transactions by buyers in the virtual world are included. The law also protects consumers in the online world.

 

Some important clauses of Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules, 2020 are explained hereinbelow –

i) These e-commerce rules will cover all commodities or purchases made everywhere through digital electronics networking systems.

ii) These e-commerce rules will cover all types of unscrupulous business transactions through various online platforms.

iii) The most significant clause is that the rule will also apply to all e-commerce companies which are not established in India but provide goods or services in India.

iv) To determine the details of e-commerce companies, Rule No. 4 is a very progressive and important rule.

v) This rule requires each e-commerce company to disclose the following information on their platform, e.g.

1) Legal name of e-commerce company.

2) The geographical location of the e-commerce company i.e. the address of the company's headquarters and all branches.

3) The name of the company's website and its details.

vi) Detailed information of the company's customer care and grievance redressal officer, such as providing their email address, fax number, landline or mobile number have to be provided.

vii) In the case of e-commerce companies, it is important to comply with Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, which is an important step because in many cases e-commerce companies try to get rid of their responsibilities by referring to section 79 of the Information Technology Act and in that case, in absence of any specific laws to cover the same, it was quite difficult to take any action against them.

viii) No seller will refuse to refund any products or services sold through the e-commerce entity Marketplace or disclaim any obligation to provide any products or services that we purchase or agree to purchase or the seller or service provider will not refuse to refund for any product or service purchased, if it is found defective. Even if a product or service is delivered after a certain period of time, the seller or service provider will be obliged to refund the money. It is stated that if a product or service is delivered after a certain period of time due to a natural disaster, this bye-law shall not apply.

ix) This rule also separates the platforms in the following ways –

(a) E-commerce entity

(b) E-commerce entities marketplaces

x) Rule number 6 clearly states the responsibilities of sellers in the online marketplace and in terms of how the various rules will be applied, Rule 8 states that in case of any violation of any section of this rule, appropriate action will be taken as per Consumer Protection Act 2019.

In my view, the above law, however, is not a complete code for the jurisdiction of e-commerce activities but it does have a protection for online consumers in India.

If you want to know more about Consumer Affairs or Consumer Protection Act 2019 and e-Commerce Consumer Protection Rules, 2020, a mobile app can be found in the Google Play Store, the link of which is given below, you may read in detail –

Mobile App on Latest Consumer Laws and E-Commerce Rule in India

Please do not take this blog post as a legal opinion and this post is written just to make people aware. Kindly read Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules, 2020 and the other related rules for proper enlightenment. 

By writing every blog-post in this blog I am not in any way soliciting work and advertising and by accessing, opening and reading this post the readers should understand that:

  • there has been no advertisement, personal communication, solicitation, invitation or inducement of any sort whatsoever from us or any of our members to solicit any work through this website;
  • any information obtained or materials downloaded from this website is completely at the user’s volition and any transmission, receipt or use of this site would not create any lawyer-client relationship.

The information provided under this website is for informational purposes only, should not be interpreted as soliciting or advertisement and in cases where the user has any legal issues, he/she in all cases must seek independent legal advice.

Did you find this write up useful? YES 1 NO 0
Tirthankar Ghosh   23 Apr 2021 2:55pm
Such information necessary for everyone in business community.
Reply
Featured Members view all

New Members view all

×

C2RMTo Know More

Something Awesome Is In The Work

0

DAYS

0

HOURS

0

MINUTES

0

SECONDS

Sign-up and we will notify you of our launch.
We’ll also give some discount for your effort :)

* We won’t use your email for spam, just to notify you of our launch.