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Proposed e-commerce policy to be robust, balanced, says Piyush Goyal

3rd Oct 2021: Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday assured that every stakeholder’s interest will be taken into consideration while framing the e-commerce policy which would be robust and in the interest of every Indian.

Goyal, who heads commerce and industry as well as consumer affairs ministries, also said that he welcomes all the feedback on the draft e-commerce rules but comments about inter-departmental issues on the draft rules are totally unwarranted.

The minister’s comments has come following reports that the Department for Promotion of Internal Industry and Trade (DPIIT), the Corporate Affairs Ministry and the Niti Aayog have objected to some provisions of the draft e-commerce rules.

The report citing an RTI reply has claimed that Niti Aayog has expressed apprehensions that the draft rules may harm ease of doing business.

Goyal said that the whole purpose of an inter-ministerial consultation was to get views and comments from different quarters.

“I do believe that I welcome all the feedback and look forward to a very robust and healthy consultations with all the stakeholders…We are trying to balance everybody’s interest and come up with a robust framework in which this (policy) can be implemented in the interest of all Indians,” Goyal told PTI.

The very purpose of releasing draft rules is to elicit public opinion, ideas from other departments, from stakeholders, encourage feedback, he said, adding the government has always believed in engaging with all the stakeholders before taking a final decision on any policy.

Citing example of data privacy law, national education policy and jewellery hallmarking norms, he said the government conducts stakeholders consultation to arrive at a good decision.

Domestic jewellers are now appreciating the hallmarking norms, which they were opposing earlier tooth and nail, he said.

“The consumer rules around the e-commerce are under public consultation. I warmly welcome feedback from various stakeholders but I have to protect everybody’s interest and balance consumers interest, ecommerce interests, retailers interests,” he said, adding that “everybody’s interest will be taken into consideration and a balanced and a very robust policy will be finalized.”

When asked if there is any move to link all the policies together, he said every department has to protect its own stakeholders.

The DPIIT under the commerce and industry ministry is also framing a national e-commerce policy.

“Consumer department has to protect the interest of consumers. Ecommerce policy is a matter for industry department to focus on, because they have to protect the interest of industry and internal trade …so we have an orderly behaviour in the industry and at the same time ensure that internal trade is also protected,” he said.

He said that they are trying to balance everybody’s interest and come up with a robust framework in which this policy can be implemented in the interest of all Indians.

On June 21, the consumer affairs ministry released draft e-commerce rules under which it banned fraudulent flash sale and mis-selling of goods and services on e-commerce platforms.

Appointment of chief compliance officer/grievance redressal officer are among other key amendments proposed to the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020.

The government also proposed registration of every e-commerce entity which intends to operate in India with the DPIIT. The proposed amendments also included e-commerce entities requiring to provide information not later than 72 hours of the receipt of an order from a government agency for prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of offences under any law.

According to research firm CUTS International, many consumer organisations have felt that draft e-commerce rules should stick to only consumer-facing issues. The Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 were first notified in July last year. Their violation attracts penal action under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. Source: Businessworld