Position of Amazon vis-ŕ-vis country of origin

The commerce ministry’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) summoned the online retailers Amazon.com Inc. (“Amazon”) and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart in June, 2020 to compel merchants to start prominently displaying ‘country of origin’ for all goods sold online in India, bowing to regulatory demands amid growing Indo-China border tensions.

Amazon India confirmed that it made it binding for the sellers on the platform, to divulge ‘the country of origin’ on their products by August 10, 2020. If the products were being imported, Amazon asked the sellers to add contact details of the importer. However, the same was not being strictly adhered to. As a result, Amazon India was penalised by the consumer affairs department over non-compliance of packaging norms and was asked to pay a fine of twenty five thousand rupees (Rs. 25,000).

The Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules, 2011 (“Rules”), which came into effect in January, 2018, mandates e-commerce platforms to display country of origin on packaged products. Non-adherence of the same violates Section - 18 (1) of the Legal Metrology Act 2009 (“Act”) read with and Section - 6(10) of the Rules, which is punishable under Section - 36 (1) of the Act. The punishment for the first offence is a fine of up to twenty five thousand rupees (Rs. 25,000). For repeated violations, the penalty is fifty thousand rupees (Rs. 50,000), while subsequent offences could lead to jail term.

This issue assumed higher significance following the India-China border tensions over recent months amid India's efforts to single out Chinese-made products.

This update is by Rohitaashv Sinha, Advocate & Associate Partner at Agarwal Jetley & Co., Advocates & Solicitors. Contact: Email: rohitaashv.sinha@agarwaljetley.com or Mob: (+91) - 9999565393