The government of India has done a U-turn on the sale of essential goods via e-commerce websites, three days after it gave the go-ahead. A ministry of home affairs press release said, "supply of nonessential goods by e-commerce companies to remain prohibited during the lockdown." The u-turn comes after the CAIT - Confederation of All India Traders sought the prime minister's intervention against the decision to allow the sale of non-essentials via e-commerce websites. CAIT's National Secretary General, Praveen Khandelwal in a statement on Sunday welcomed the new decision of the government. "CAIT demolished the sinister plan of e-commerce companies to trade in non-essential commodities. Thanks to HM Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal," Khandelwal said.
Piyush Goyal too had written to MHA about the decision to allow the sale of non-essentials by e-commerce companies.
On Sunday a fresh order was issued by the union home secretary which said that e-commerce vehicles will need special permission to operate. Amending sub-clause 5 under clause 14 on commercial and private establishments, Home secretary's order said "In continuation of the MHA order dated 15th and 16th April 2020, undersigned hereby orders to exclude the following from the consolidated revised guidelines for strict implementation - e-commerce companies, vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to play only with necessary permissions." While the order doesn't spell out a clear ban on the sale of nonessentials, MHA spokesperson clarified the position.
Earlier the MHA guideline had said that all Kirana stores, brick and mortar stores, and e-commerce websites will be allowed to operate if they followed the social distancing norms. Since the order didn't make a distinction between essentials and nonessentials, e-commerce websites had started accepting orders for non-essential goods to be delivered post 20th April.
UPDATE: Union Home secretary in a fresh order has asked states and Union Territories to not allow the sale of nonessential goods on e-commerce websites. "I would like to clarify that while operations of e-commerce companies for non-essential goods have been prohibited, however, they will continue to operate for essential goods as has been allowed earlier," the home secretary said in his latest communication with chief secretaries of states and UTs. He has also instructed that field agencies in States be accordingly apprised