E-COMMERCE GUIDELINES TO RULES
What’s in news?
Union Consumer Affairs Minister announced that Guidelines for e-commerce firms aimed at protecting the consumer interests issued earlier this month would become mandatory under the new Consumer Protection Act.
Consumer Protection Bill 2019:
- Recently, the bill was passed in the Parliament, which seeks to establish CCPA.
- Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA): This authority will be established to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights under the new law — will take action against violating e-commerce firms.
- The bill also envisages simplified dispute resolution process, deals with ‘product liability’ and provides for stiff punishment to check misleading ads and adulteration.
- The recently passed Consumer Protection Act, 2019 contains E-commerce guidelines, which is advisory in nature as of now. But soon the guidelines will be made mandatory for the firms doing online business.
- The Ministry would invite suggestions from the Parliamentarians and Parliament as well as other experts to brainstorm on the proposed rules by September 15 and the rules would be notified by December. Meanwhile, the ministry has also sought views on the draft guidelines on e-commerce by the same date.
- According to a recent Morgan Stanley report, the e-commerce sector in India is estimated to reach $230 billion by 2028, accounting for 10 per cent of India’s retail trade.
- Because of the explosive growth, it is important to frame e-commerce rules due to the increase in the number of online users, growing penetration of smartphones and the rising popularity of social media platforms.
Salient features of the draft guidelines:
- The guidelines will be applicable on all business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce platforms.
- It seeks to protect personally-identifiable information of customers and set a 14-day limit for payments toward refund
- The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) would be established to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights. It would have the power to take action against violating firms.
- The platforms are also required to display terms of contract with the seller relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty, delivery and mode of payments.
- It proposes to make it mandatory for e-commerce entities to accept returns in the event the products delivered are “defective, wrong or spurious” or if they do not have the characteristics or features advertised.
- Every e-commerce entity has to publish the contact details of its grievance officer, who would have to address complaints within one month from the date of receipt.
- The final rules will be notified by December 2019.
- There is no ambiguity whether medical care and hospitals would come under the purview of the new Consumer Protection Act, unlike the previous Act enacted in 1986.
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