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Mandatory for e-commerce companies to show ‘country of origin’ of imported products: Govt tells Delhi HC

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It is mandatory for e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal to display the country of origin alongside imported products, the government told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday. This response came in a counter-affidavit filed by the centre, following a plea seeking e-commerce to display country of origin alongside product listings. The government also prayed that the Court issue an advisory or directive to e-commerce companies to provide an option to “refine” search results for “made in India” products. News agency PTI first reported this.

The affidavit, which was filed through the central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul, also revealed that the government had sent a direction to all e-commerce companies on July 3 asking them to display the country of origin as mandated in the legal metrology rules. The direction was sent by BN Dixit, director of legal metrology under the Department of Consumer Affairs. This perhaps explains why Amazon India sent an email to sellers on its platform last week, directing them to mandatorily display country of origin alongside product listings, starting from July 21.

The government argued that it is mandatory for e-commerce companies to display the country of imported products under the legal metrology rules. “It is respectfully submitted that the provision for declarations of country of origin on e-commerce sites is already made under sub-rule l0 of rule 6 of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 201 I and E-Commerce entities should ensure that the mandatory declarations (including the country of origin in case of imported products),” the government said in the affidavit.

The government also argued that “denying this information would jeopardize the position of consumer and place him in a disadvantageous position, Ieading to his exploitation at various levels of trade. This information covers the right of consumer to know about the commodity”.

What the petition said: Earlier this month, a PIL in the Delhi High Court — filed by Amit Shukla, a lawyer — sought the court to issue directions to ensure the display of the name of the manufacturing country on the products offered for sale at e-commerce websites and the Compliance of Legal Metrology Act, 2009. It had also prayed that e-commerce companies “display the Made in India option separately and conspicuously in the type of goods searched (refine search)”. The petition also alternatively sought that e-commerce companies be directed to display products manufactured in India over imported products in listings.

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Govt’s July 3 directive to all e-comm companies

Here is the communication that the Department of Consumer Affairs sent to all e-commerce companies about displaying country of origin:

Subject: Compliance of Legal Metrology (packaged Commodities) Rutes,2011

It has come to the notice of the Department of Consumer Affairs that some of the e-commerce entities are not giving the mandatory declarations as required under the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules. 201 1

2. It may be mentioned that Sub Rule 10 of Rule 6 of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules. 2011 provides that an E-Commerce entity should ensure that the mandatory declarations (including the country of origin) as prescribed in Sub Rule 1 of Rule 6, except the month and ye in which the commodity is manufactured or packed. shall be displayed on the digital and  electronic network used for e-commerce transactions

3 In case of market place model of e-commerce, responsibility of the correctness of the declarations lie with the manufacturer or seller or dealer or importer.

4. In view of the above and in the interest of consumers, it is advised that the e-commerce entities may ensure compliance to the aforesaid provisions.

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