E-commerce rules: CAIT calls for strict monitoring, says draft norms to end acrony capitalism

New Delhi: Describing the draft e-commerce rules as a perfect set of guidelines for conducting structured and transparent e-commerce business in India, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has said that the rules if implemented would end the crony capitalism that allegedly exists in the current e-commerce scenario in the country.

The traders’ body has also suggested to come up with a monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance of these regulations by the online majors. In a letter to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, it has also suggested the penal actions should be taken in case the rules are violated.

CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that the foreign funded e-tailers and some of the prominent industry chambers are giving lame arguments to oppose draft rules.

He noted that it is a “sinister trap” of vested interests of companies duly supported by industry chambers to dislodge the draft rules. However, more than eight crore small businesses of the country are committed to oppose any wrong narrative if anyone tries to build around the draft rules, Khandelwal said.

He added that inclusive growth of e-commerce business in India largely depends on four core fundamentals — transparent operations of e-commerce platforms, easy accessibility and adequate grievance redressal by e-commerce entities, non-discriminatory access of marketplace platforms to all stakeholders of the value-chain, avoidance of conflict of interest between marketplace platforms, sellers and various service providers on the platform.

The organisation further said that any marketplace having an equity or economic interest in any entity should not be allowed to sell goods on the said marketplace and it should be treated as “affiliated entity”.

In its submission, the CAIT argued that mandatory registration of e-commerce entities conducting business through any e-mode should lay the substantial foundation of a well-defined eco-system and the extent of e-commerce landscape can easily be gauged with the registration process and shall protect consumers from rogue or fraudulent e-commerce companies.

Transparency should be the hallmark of any business activity and every e-commerce marketplace must therefore act in a transparent manner with respect to all stakeholders, namely – the customer, sellers, logistics partners and payment gateways, it said.

Therefore, all sorts of agreement between the platform and sellers registered on the said platform should be disclosed in a transparent manner disclosing all information about the sellers and products to the consumer at the pre-purchase stage, according to the traders’ body.

Further, the search algorithm used by the e-commerce marketplace must be transparently disclosed and displayed to the users so that they can make informed choices.

Among other suggestions, CAIT has said that it must be ensured that consumers can reach out to senior grievance redressal officers of the marketplace entities to resolve their concerns and therefore the provision of appointment of Grievance Officer, Nodal Officer nd Compliance Officer is laudable.