The Supreme Court Friday agreed to hear a plea seeking direction to the Centre to formulate a law mandating all e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart to display 'country of origin' on the products they sell so as to allow consumers to make informed decisions.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice to the Centre and sought its response.
The plea refers to "influx of junk" from China via e-commerce sites as also calls from various quarters for boycotting products from that country in view of India-China conflict in Ladakh which has led to loss of lives of Indian soldiers.
Petitioner in-person Divya Jyoti Singh told the court that the direction be issued for formulating a law asking all e-commerce industry/portals who are selling goods in India, through any channel, to display the 'country of origin' label in such a way that it is legible to consumers.
She sought a direction to the Centre to formulate a law, which makes it mandatory for all the e-commerce portals like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal to disclose and display the Country of Origin for all goods sold in India in a proper size that makes it legible for the consumers to read it.
As an interim prayer, the plea said that the Centre direct e-commerce portals to enable the feature for displaying the country of origin of all new product listings and fix a time frame within which all existing listings will be updated.
Her plea said that 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.
“One of the imperative right of a consumer is that they should be aware of the Country of Origin of the product. It is one of the important point the consumers uses to perceive the product quality as well,” the plea said.
It said that one can always locate the ‘made in country’ labels while purchasing from the physical stores but the e-commerce portals do not provide the same and despite having lot of filters to find out the material, quality and care of the products, do not provide a filter disclosing the country of origin.
“The e-commerce portals surreptitiously do not disclose the Country of Origin for the products on their web-portals. It seems large influx of junk is made and imported from China. The Indian consumers are still kept in dark by not disclosing the Country of Origin, for if the consumers do not know where the products are made, they cannot stop buying them or to put it in other words let the consumers make an informed decision” the plea said.
It added that the entire country is united and standing together showing allegiance to the motherland, as an effect of the loss of lives of our soldiers owing to the India-Chinese conflict in the Ladakh region and thus are running a nationwide campaign pertaining to the boycott of all the Chinese products / mobile apps through which China generates revenue in Crores.
“In the event of such extra-ordinary circumstance when the entire nation stands united and there is a wave flowing in the country for boycotting the Chinese products, by non-disclosure of the ‘Country of Origin’ on the web-portals, these giant business houses/ e- commerce portals are not only playing with the patriotic feelings of the Indians but also are proving fatal in the efforts of each and every citizen of India in boycotting the Chinese products..,” it said.
The plea, alternatively, sought amending of section 2 (9) of the Consumer Protection Act 2019 to say that the consumer’s right shall also include information on the ‘country of origin’ on products on e-commerce portals.
It said non-disclosure of 'country of origin' should attract stringent penal provisions and the Centre shall ensure strict implementation.