Two e-commerce giants are likely to face a fine of Rs 25,000 for violating the packaging norms by not mentioning the Country of Origin on their products. Last month, the Consumer Affairs Ministry had sent show cause notices to Amazon and Flipkart for not complying with the rule. The online retailers had been given 15 days to explain.
Ram Vilas Paswan , the Consumer Affairs Minister, had earlier said that the provision of declaration of country of origin has been in place since January 2018 for all manufacturers, importers, packers and e-commerce players. The provision for declarations on e-commerce sites is made under sub-rule 10 of rule 6 of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011.
Moreover, the amended Rules states that all e-commerce companies need to mention the source nation of their products and other mandatory information on the package commoditie sold by them. They also need to display the details on their platforms. Leena Nandan, Consumer Affairs Secretary, had also said that most companies are complying with the provision on product labelling sold in offline markets, but e-commerce platforms are not showing it prominently on their websites. Nandan pointed out that if this provision is strictly complied with, consumers can make an informed decision. “All e-commerce sites have to display it on their websites. We have written to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), which registers e-commerce sites, to comply with the provision,” she said.
Companies found violating the Act are liable for punishment or fine, extending up to Rs 25,000 for first offence; for second offence, the fine can go up to Rs 50,000 – not less than Rs 50,000 and not more than Rs 1 lakh or up to one year imprisonment o both. Notedly, the country of origin gained momentum ever since the government clamped down on imports from China, and banned hundreds of Chinese apps on the grounds of data security and privacy, while also appealing to consumers to purchase locally made products. As such the DPIIT had also instructed all e-commerce platforms to disclose the details the country of origin of all their product listings by August 1 2020, for non-legacy products and by October 1 2020 for legacy products.