Update (March 26 11:28 pm): The Home Ministry has also directed all states and UTs to allow e-commerce supply chains to function so that essential goods (food, medicines, and medical equipment/devices) can be delivered. The order issued by Delhi Police allowing operations of e-commerce in the city without any passes had already been rescinded before Home Ministry’s directions, Vikram Porwal, the staff officer to commissioner of Delhi Police, told MediaNama. This is because it wasn’t clear how deliveries across borders, and transportation of essential goods across city and state borders would happen in the absence of a central directive.

All e-commerce retailers and online delivery services delivering essential goods can continue to operate in Delhi, according to a Delhi Police order sent to all cops, including traffic cops, in the city. No separate passes are required to operate within the city, Vikram Porwal, the staff officer to commissioner of Delhi Police, who signed the order, told MediaNama.

Company IDs are enough for movement within Delhi: Delivery agents will only require their company-issued IDs to operate in the city, Porwal said. While uniforms and company vehicles will help, they are not compulsory. “There are many establishments who do not have uniforms but are in the business of providing essential services,” he said.

  • This is in conflict with an earlier order from the Delhi Government. All “essential service providers in private sector” are required to get passes from the concerned district magistrate, divisional commissioner, or district DCP “to move in and out of Delhi”, as per Health and Family Welfare Department’s order dated March 24 which was signed by Padmini Singla, secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department. It is not clear if this pass includes e-commerce deliveries and if it is only for crossing borders, or for movement within the city as well. Singla’s office told MediaNama that this includes e-commerce deliveries too but didn’t clarify if passes are required for within the city as well. Porwal was not aware of such an order, or that the Delhi government was also issuing passes. He told us that passes would be required only if essential service providers (except media personnel) crossed borders into Delhi. It is not clear if delivery agents, who cross the border into Delhi, would require passes. We have asked Porwal for a clarification.

Delhi Police allows all e-commerce companies to operate: The list in the order is not exhaustive, Porwal told us. The police department has been instructed to allow even companies not mentioned in the order to operate. “It will be decided on the spot only. They will be allowed without any problem,” he said.

  • Some of the companies included in the order are: e-commerce companies (Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal), food delivery (Zomato, Swiggy, UberEats), online grocers (24Seven, Grofers, BigBasket, Milkbasket, Dunzo, Big Bazaar, Licious), e-pharmacies (Medlife, PharmEasy), service providers (UrbanClap), courier and logistics companies (Blue Dart, DTDC, Wow Express). The order also includes Dr Lal Path Labs and Max Path Labs.
  • Strangely enough, Jabong and Myntra, which are online apparel stores and arguably not providers of “essential” goods, are also listed in the order. We have asked Porwal about this and are awaiting a response.
  • Satvacart is also mentioned in the list, but the company only delivers in Gurugram.

Verification of delivery agents from lesser known companies will be done on the spot. Calling it a “difficult task”, Porwal said that it will depend on how well the “person is able to convince [the police]”. But the police will not be restrictive in allowing movement of people who claim to deliver goods, he said. “Of course if he is carrying some bag with food or some stuff, that we can verify on the spot,” he said. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had issued an advisory to all state governments on March 24, before the 21-day lockdown was announced, to treat copies of “orders, way bills, invoices etc.” as evidence that people are indeed engaged in e-commerce service. Porwal agreed that this was a useful method, but the order doesn’t mention using bills or invoices as a way to verify agents’ movement.

Local delivery of essential services was permitted earlier: Delivery services by grocers and general provision stores, including kendriya bhandars, and home delivery from restaurants had been permitted by the Delhi Police in an order dated March 23.   

Read more about e-commerce operations during the 21-day lockdown here.