Amidst the clamour to ban China made goods , the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs has sent out a reminder to all e-commerce portals to ensure that the “country of origin” of the products being sold by them should be mentioned as part of mandatory declarations.
“At a time when we are pushing for ‘Made in India’ products, it is equally necessary for our consumers to know exactly where the products that they are buying are coming from,” Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said at an online press conference on Thursday.
The Ministry’s reminder to e-commerce portals is part of a concerted effort by the government to have ‘country of origin’ declarations on these websites. The department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) on Wednesday held a second meeting on the matter after the initial consultation two weeks ago, attended by close to 30 e-commerce players.
The Ministry in its reminder invoked the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011. These rules make it mandatory for all manufacturers to declare the package name and address of the manufacturer, common and generic name of commodity, net quantity, month and year of manufacturing, MRP and consumer care details. In addition to these, in 2017, new provisions were added for e-commerce websites such as Amazon, Flipkart and so on, making it compulsory for them to display these information along with “declaration of country of origin or manufacture or assembly” and a clear mention of expiry date.
There are punitive provisions in the law. For the first offence, a penalty up to ₹25000 can be charged, for the second offence, the fine may extend to ₹50,000. Any subsequent offences can attract a jail term of one year.
Though the law has been in place for the last three years, the Ministry has no details on how many times it has been invoked to penalise any of these portals.
Secretary, Consumer Affairs, Leena Nandan, said that the Ministry was still collating the figures. When questioned about the timing of the reminder, she said that it was only to help the consumers make an informed choice.