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Govt extends feedback deadline for e-comm consumer draft guidelines

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The Department of Consumer Affairs has extended the last date for submission of feedback by all the stakeholders on the draft guidelines on e-commerce to October 31.

The guidelines, which were issued by the Department on August 2 earlier this year, addressed the issues faced by online shoppers and invited views and suggestions by all interested parties including consumers, sellers, and online marketplaces.

The earlier deadline of 45 days was ending on September 16, which has now been extended to October 31 after various stakeholders requested more time to get clarity on the subject matter.

The new framework issued by the department named as E-Commerce Guidelines for Consumer Protection 2019 was drafted to protect the interests of consumers. It will act as the guiding principle for online commerce in India for the prevention of fraud, unfair trade practices, and to protect the rights and interests of consumers online.

The draft guidelines contained the following conditions to be fulfilled by the online marketplaces and sellers :

Payments of products sold should be processed as per RBI guidelines; the promoters of the said marketplace shouldn’t be convicted of a criminal offence in the last 5 years and; full details of sellers to be disclosed on the platform including the legal identity of their business, website, e-mail address and contact details; the market place shall not influence the price of the goods or services.

Besides, the draft included points to had protected consumer interests intact and mandated that e-commerce websites shall display terms of the contract between the marketplace and the seller relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty, delivery of products, mode of payments and a proper grievance redressal mechanism.

It also directed that the e-commerce entity shall ensure that personal information of customers is protected and that their data collection and storage policy shall comply with provisions of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008.

Entities such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal acting as e-commerce marketplaces will have to duly comply with the new guidelines within 90 days from the date of publication and submit a self-declaration to the Department of Consumer Affairs stating that it complies with the said guidelines. 

These guidelines were framed on the heels of the draft policy to regulate commerce in India which was issued by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT) in February this year. While that draft hasn’t been made into law yet, the new Consumer protection framework is heavily influenced by DPIIT’s draft policy. 

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