In a first, the e-commerce sector comprising e-tailing platforms, food aggregators and ride-hailing platforms, has formulated certain self-governing principles for the sector. The national e-commerce committee at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) formulated the voluntary guidelines and has also shared these self-governing principles with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DPIIT).
The national e-commerce committee at Ficci comprises 30 companies including e-tailing platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Paytm Mall and Indiamart, food aggregators like Swiggy and Zomato, and ride-hailing companies Ola and Uber. While the code is voluntary for the companies to adopt, some big e-commerce players such as Amazon and Flipkart are not on board, said the people aware of the matter. Both the e-commerce companies believe that such self-governing principles are not necessary given that the government is already formulating regulations and policies for the sector.
Ficci and Amazon did not respond to queries. Flipkart said the "industry is engaging with the DPIIT/Ministry of Commerce and Industries and other stakeholders to evolve e-commerce policy guidelines."
"Although the government intends to re-work the framework around consumer protection through the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018, and has made continued efforts towards developing a holistic policy for e-commerce through the national e-commerce policy, the industry considers it imperative to take immediate and proactive steps towards this goal, so that online consumers continue to be protected in the interim," Ficci said in the document circulated to the government and the industry that CNBC-TV 18 has seen.
"It is with the intention of filling the existing lacunae in the law, until such time that appropriate regulations are codified, that the e-commerce committee at Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has drafted these self-governing principles for the e-commerce sector," it added.
The self-governing principles largely revolve around the objective of protecting the consumer interest.
Some of the key guidelines entail :
The move by the e-commerce sector comes as it is set to be regulated by different verticals of the government. The consumer affairs ministry had put up draft guidelines for e-commerce players on August 5, seeking industry feedback until September 16.
The commerce ministry is working on an overarching e-commerce policy, while the DPIIT released the Press Note 3 which came into effect in February.