Border tension between China and India flashed in the month of May when the Indian and Chinese troops wherein standoff along the LAC and gradually got violent in the month of June when the Chinese troops breached the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and entered Galwan valley. The two sides clashed which resulted in casualties. Around 20 Indian soldiers were dead.
On 29 June, the government of India banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, Share it, Helo, UC Browser, Cam Scanner etc. under section 69 of IT act. The government declared that such apps are threats to country’s sovereignty and security. In an official statement released by the IT ministry said that, they have received many complaints regarding the misuse of mobile apps on Android and IOS platforms or ‘stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner.
In midst of ongoing issues between China and India, Divya Jyoti Singh, an advocate files a PIL under article 32 of the Indian Constitution to formulate a law which makes it mandatory for all e-commerce websites to display country of origin.
The definition of E-commerce under Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is provided under Section 2 (16) is defined as;
“E-commerce means buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over digital or electronic network”
India is rapidly developing towards the e-commerce industry through Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal etc. which generates a huge amount of revenue from the country. With the outbreak of coronavirus online shopping has become more convenient and a safer option in comparison to physical shopping.
When the shops were shut due to the ongoing lockdown it was the e-commerce websites that were providing people with essential commodities at their doorstep. In such circumstances with a rapid growth of the e-commerce shopping businesses.
It is very important that the consumer’s interest be safeguard.
According to Section 2(9) of the consumer Protection Act, 2019, Consumer rights includes:- “ the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods, products or services, as the case may be, so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices”
It is the right of the consumer to know about the origin of the product in order to perceive the quality of the product. One can easily locate the ‘country of origin’ while physical shopping but e-commerce websites don’t provide the same.
In a survey by Indian E-Commerce Industry dated 22.04.2020, revealed that it is estimated that one in every three Indian shops via online retailers rather than visiting the physical stores.
Country of origin represents the country or countries of production, design, manufacture or brand. It determines where the product comes from. It is an informal branding, which includes the name of the manufacturer and place of origin, which helps the consumer to determine the quality of the product.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, and Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian heard the plea issued by Divya Jyoti Singh and directed the Central government to promulgate a law which compels e-commerce websites to display ‘country of origin’ to deter consumers from purchasing Chinese goods.
The central government has issued notice for all the e-commerce websites to display ‘country of origin’ on all new products by 1st August and on the older products by 1st October. To promote self-reliant India and Make in India; Government e-Marketplace (GeM) has made it mandatory for sellers to indicate ‘country of origin’. Sellers are ordered to update country of origin or else products will be removed from GeM. GeM has also enabled a provision to indicate the percentage of local content in products. With this new feature, the ‘Country of Origin’ as well as the local content percentage are visible in the marketplace for all items. More essentially, the ‘Make in India’ filter has been enabled on the web portals.
At this time, whole country is united and stands together to show support to our motherland, as an effect of loss of life of soldiers owing to the dispute between India-China conflicts at the Galwan valley and to boycott Chinese products.
The e-commerce websites are playing with the patriotic feelings of the Indian consumers by not displaying the country of origin. As the Indian consumers are uninformed about the origin of the product then how are they going to stop buying them? This not only effects the patriotic feelings but also cripples each and every effort made by the citizens of India to boycott Chinese products. This also causes hindrance in promoting local products/brands and destroys the vision of self-reliant India of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi.