The Central government on Wednesday submitted before the Delhi High Court that the declaration of the country of origin on pre-packaged commodities used for e-commerce transactions is required in case of imported products.
The centre presented their case in an affidavit filed on a PIL placed before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan. According to the Legal Metrology Act and Rules, e-commerce sites have to ensure that the country of origin is displayed on the “digital and electronic network used for e-commerce transactions”. Enforcement of the rules will be the responsibility of the states and union territories, Ajay Digpaul, standing counsel for the central government stated.
Digpaul stated that whenever any violation is observed, the action is taken by the legal metrology officials of the concerned state or union territory in accordance with the law.
“The declaration of country of origin on the pre-packaged commodity or on the digital and electronic network used for e-commerce transactions is required in case of an imported product and if the product is manufactured indigenously, country of origin may not be mentioned on the product.”
The Department of Consumer affairs, while opposing the PIL, said that directions have already been issued to all e-commerce entities to ensure the compliance of the provisions of the concerned rules and acts.
E-commerce platform Snapdeal, in its affidavit, submitted that imposing onerous and unnecessary requirements upon sellers operating on the online marketplace amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already impacted the economy, will further negatively impact bona fide businesses, the Indian economy, and also consumers’ interest.
“Increasing the compliance burden on businesses offering products on e-commerce platforms is likely to prove detrimental to the broader public interest,” Snapdeal argued.
The plea, filed by Advocate Amit Shukla, submitted that in 2017, Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 was amended and a mandate was inserted to publish the country of origin/manufacture in the e-commerce website.
However, the mandate was never strictly enforced, the plea revealed.
The plea argued that when a large number of Indian citizens plan to comply with the government’s appeal to promote and buy Indian goods in order to strengthen the nation, it has become essential that the e-commerce websites conspicuously display the country of manufacturing/origin for all products sold through such platforms.
The expression “country of origin”, however, remains vague with some products assembled in countries including India but with their components or raw material sourced from another nation, and companies have asked the government to clarify its stand, the sources said.
Indian state-run e-commerce portal – Government e-Marketplace – has already started displaying country of origin besides the products sold on it.