Unhappy with the paltry amount of penalty levied by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MCA) on Amazon India, for not providing the details of ‘country of origin’ of products displayed on its platform, pro-kirana stores and small traders’ lobby groups have demanded a 7-day ban on the Jeff Bezos-owned company.
Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which supports the cause of lakhs of kirana shops and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) have said that they were not happy with the amount of INR 25K penalty that Amazon has been asked to pay by the ministry.
While CAIT’s secretary-general Praveen Khandelwal has demanded a week-long ban on Amazon, SJM’s national co-convenor Ashwini Mahajan has demanded that the fine collected should be proportional to the loss incurred by the economy due to purchase of foreign goods.
Amazon was on Wednesday fined INR 25K for violating government’s norms on displaying the country’s origin on products sold on the platform.
The fine follows a notice issued by the government against Amazon for not displaying such information and a Delhi HC notice to the ecommerce player.
The notice was issued by the bench comprising Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan to the ecommerce company in response to a petition filed by advocate Amit Shukla, seeking Amazon to comply with the Legal Metrology Act 2009, which mandated the display of ‘country of origin’ on products retailed online.
Speaking to Inc42, Praveen Khandelwal, CAIT’s secretary-general of CAIT said, “We believe that fine should be exemplary so that mistakes like this don’t get repeated. But imposing a fine of just INR 25K for not obeying the law is more like compromising with the law. Amazon can go on disobeying the law as for them the amount is very small.”
He demanded the government to impose a week’s ban on Amazon. Khandelwal said, “There has to be an example set. If they are willfully breaking the law, then there is some vested interest.”
Meanwhile, Ashwini Mahajan, national co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch told Inc42, “The fine should be in proportion to the losses incurred by the Indian economy due to purchase of foreign goods at their platform. The fine imposed needs to be steep.”
Taking a stern view against ecommerce players, Khandelwal said, “Law should be equal for everybody and other ecommerce players (Flipkart, Myntra) should also face the heat for flouting rules. I am unable to understand why they were not fined.”
The consumer affairs ministry had issued a notice last month which read, “It has been brought into notice that some of the ecommerce entities are not displaying the mandatory declaration on digital platforms required under the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.”
The ministry had added that Flipkart India Pvt Ltd and Amazon Development Centre India Pvt Ltd had to ensure that all mandatory declarations were displayed on the digital and electronic network used for ecommerce transactions.
Meanwhile, ecommerce companies claim that they have started showing the country of origin tag in the newer listings, while the older listings would take time. Also, there are millions of listings available which eventually will take a reasonable amount of time as a lot of scanning was required. Also, only sellers will be able to update the listings and not the marketplace.
A senior executive from an ecommerce company had told Moneycontrol, “This happens because of multiple sourcing of a product. So, the product is sourced from a foreign country but is assembled in India. Or also when there is a reseller involved who has bought the product in India but it was originally sourced from a foreign country.”