The Department of Consumer Affairs (“Department”) on November 11, 2019 released the Draft Consumer Protection (e-Commerce) Rules, 2019(“Rules”) among the eight draft rules that it recently released. This article aims to give a quick insight into it.
To begin with, an e-commerce entity is defined as “any company (Indian or Foreign) which has been incorporated under the Companies laws of India or an office, branch or agency in India owned or controlled by a person resident outside India including an electronic service provider or a partnership or proprietary firm conducting the e-Commerce business.” An Electronic Service Provider is defined as “a person who provides technologies or processes to a product seller which would assist him/her in advertising or selling of goods or services to a consumer. This includes all online market place or online auction sites.”
Compliances for carrying out e-Commerce business (“Business”) in India
The Rules provides certain compliances for an e-commerce business to function in India which they will have to follow within 90 days of publication of these rules in the gazette. They are listed as under-
Liabilities of an e-commerce entity
Along with compliances, these Rules also, very lucidly, lay out the liabilities of an e-commerce entity. They are as follows –
One of the cardinal obligations for an e-commerce entity that has been spelt out in these Rules is that these entities are obligated to mention clearly the terns of contract between itself and the seller. Further, it should make sure that the advertisements for marketing of such goods or services are not misleading. Other obligations include mentioning of safety and health care information of the goods and service advertised for sale, providing information on available payment methods, protecting personal information of the customers and compliance with the Information and Technology Act, 2008. These entities will be held liable if they makes a claim for the authenticity of the goods sold on its platform.
Liability of sellers
Liability of sellers has also been extensively dealt with in these rules. A few of them are that they should have a written contract with the respective e-commerce entity if they want to perform such sale or offer. They are required to give all the information which is necessary to be given by law regarding disclosing of contractual information and compliance. The sellers are also responsible for the warranty/guarantee obligation of goods and services sold.
Consumer grievance redress procedure–
The Rules also provide for a consumer grievance redress procedure wherein e-commerce entities are mandated to provide the details of the Grievance Officer whom the consumers can approach regarding their complaints with the goods or services purchased from that e-commerce entity’s website. They also have to mention the mechanism through which these complaints are to be notified. The time period for redressal is one month from the date of receipt of the complaint. Other modes like e-mail or website, for the registration of complaints are to be provided to the customers. Complaint number should also be given. The idea is to give as much consumer protection as any other form of commerce gives.
These Rules however, are yet to become a law.
November 11th, 2019