“The [Consumer Protection] Bill has nothing to say about [fake] goods sold on e-commerce websites like Amazon, Flipkart,” said Congress MP Saptarishi Ulaka in Lok Sabha on July 30. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on July 30 and in Rajya Sabha on August 6. While debating the bill, MPs made a few points in both the houses, pointing out that the Bill failed to address consumers’ rights on e-commerce platforms.

(See a copy of the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019)

The Bill doesn’t address the sale of fake goods on e-commerce websites: Arguments made against the Bill

“One of the biggest problems now is of fake goods. With the advent of e-commerce websites, there are a lot of fake goods being sold. This Bill has nothing to say about goods sold on e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. When one orders for a mouse, after opening the packet only he finds that it is a fake product. These sites claim to be selling an Apple product but instead you get a fake product which is made in China. But the e-commerce sites are never responsible. They are just meant to be carriers of products. It has to be clearly defined as to what has to be done in such cases,” Ulaka said in the Lok Sabha.

In the Rajya Sabha, senior Congressman KC Ramamurthy said that one of the main aims of the Bill was to regulate e-commerce in India. However, he said that increasing regulations on the sector might hamper its growth “as business houses and manufacturers will need to update their process to conform to the new law”. He also said that there was no remedy available in the Bill which can address the harm done to e-commerce companies …The Bill has completely failed to address the sale of fake goods online, despite the same being a major problem in the e-commerce sector,” he said.

AIADMK’s P Raveendranath Kumar said that steps should be taken by the government to ensure the quality of products being sold online since “the number of substandard products in online marketing has also increased recently”…“There is no awareness among the public about the way to complain against spurious products, if such products are supplied by online marketing firms,” he said.

AM Ariff of the CPI said that the Bill needs to consider the variety of products that are available through e-commerce. “I am mentioning about the financial products such as insurance policies sold online or services such as housekeeping, pest control etc. which are excluded,” he added.

The government’s control over online advertisements

“I would like to know from the Hon. Minister [Ram Vilas Paswan] as to how the Government intends to control advertisements on the internet?” Trinamool Congress’ Pratima Mondal asked in the Lok Sabha. Meanwhile, Congress’ Kodikunnil Suresh proposed that the definition of an “advertisement” should be amended (his proposed amendment was rejected):

“advertisement”‍ means‍ commercial‍ messages‍ or‍ endorsements or pronouncements or offer of services broadcast through the means of any audio or video publicity, representation or pronouncement, made by means of light, sound, smoke, gas, print, electronic media, internet enabled media including websites and social media and includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper, invoice or any such documents that contain a commercial message or any other form ‍as‍ deemed‍ fit‍ by‍ the‍ competent ‍authority.