Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday said that the government is examining allegations of anti-competitive practices by e-comm firms and that action will be taken if any violation is found.
“Representations have been received in this Department alleging that some e-commerce platforms are engaged in predatory pricing and are providing excessive discounts,” Goyal said in his response to a question in the Lok Sabha.
According to India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) policy on the e-commerce sector, any firm operating a marketplace model business in the sector is not allowed to directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods or services and shall maintain a level playing field.
At present, e-commerce companies having foreign investment can operate only a marketplace model and there are restrictions on the inventory-based model of e-commerce.
Goyal also referred to the FDI policy press note 2 released in December 2018 and said that cashback provided by group companies of marketplace entity to buyers shall be fair and non-discriminatory.
Last month, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had ordered a probe of Amazon and Flipkart over alleged malpractices of deep discounting, having preferred sellers on the marketplace and preferential listing and promotion of private labels. The regulator has asked Director General Enforcement of CCI to carry out the investigation and submit its report by March.
The move came after offline traders body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and mobile retailers complained against the two e-comm leaders for their alleged indulgence in anti-competitive behaviours.
In response to a separate question, Goyal said that the government has prepared a draft national e-commerce policy to create a facilitative regulatory environment for the growth of the e-commerce sector in India.
In regard to patent applications, the government has brought down the time taken for examination of patent applications to 24-36 months from 72 months in 2014-15, he added.