In what could turn out to be a major embarrassment for the government, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), in a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query said that it had no information about the names and the number of companies operating e-commerce websites in India, reports the Economic Times. To put things in perspective, DIPP is the agency that formulates the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy of India. The department is also entrusted to promote, approve and facilitate FDI.

The RTI, which was filed by Dharmendra Kumar of India FDI Watch, asked for a list of entities covered by e-commerce guidelines; if parties related to such entities are carrying out restricted businesses in India and whether these parties comply with the foreign direct investment rules as notified in February 2017, ET said. Kumar also went on to ask in the same RTI, a list of Indian e-commerce companies operating marketplaces and the agency or government department with which these companies needed to be registered, the report added.

As for the responses, three questions were replied with, there is “no information to furnish on the matter”, while two other queries were answered with, “the copy of the RTI is forwarded to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for providing information, if available with them.” According to the report, the questions were replied to by Sushant Sudan, the central public information officer of DIPP.

The news comes in the backdrop of multiple traders associations protesting against the $16 billion Walmart-Flipkart deal. Offline retail players and bodies have continuously notified about the malpractices or unfair practices like FDI violations, heavy discounts, not maintaining level playing field etc of e-commerce players.