The article is both descriptive and critical about the e-commerce situation in the country. The article is descriptive as it will give the reader a brief idea about how state and centre work in making laws for the country. On the other hand, it is critical because it talks about the disadvantages of having different laws and regulations on various digital platforms across states. The article also explores the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019. There is a simple explanation about the need for uniform laws so the country and businesses can be run smoothly in the long run.
E-commerce, in simple terms, means commercial transactions conducted electronically on the internet. It lets people and various others buy things over the internet. Various online companies like- Amazon, Flipkart, Olx are examples of e-commerce websites. It has so many business applications likes- digital wallet, messaging, online banking, social networking, virtual assistant, payment systems and many more.
The electronic are categorised into two categories-
- Business based on types of goods sold- involves ordering goods, services etc.
- Nature of the participant- B2B, B2C, C2B, and C2C.
B2B – BUSINESS TO BUSINESS– This involves online business between two organisations.
B2C- BUSINESS TO CUSTOMER– This involves exchanges between business and customers. It involves getting products from manufacturers to the customers directly.
C2B- CUSTOMER TO BUSINESS– This involves consumers offering services to businesses, thus adding value to it.
C2C- CUSTOMER TO CUSTOMER– This involves transactions among consumers.
E-commerce in India
The e-commerce business has successfully established among Indian industries and markets. Day- by day, a new firm establishes as a result of online business. Indian online platform runs on some concepts which are:
- Multi-product e-commerce: This kind of portal provides every type of goods and services which reaches the use of every customer. Be it, health, books, cosmetics, sports equipment, electronics, home furnishing, gifts, jewellery anything.
- Single product e-commerce: This portal provides one service and aims in one direction. For example, vehicles, tour and travels.
The emergence of e-commerce has created many new opportunities for the unemployed. They need new people who can work in information to relate services, apps, digital products etc. this new technology will occupy highly skilled people who know how to manage customer data, digital platforms, and knows technicality of everything. As a result, low skilled people will be deprived of their jobs.
Talking about impacts on customers, customers enjoy the technology as it is made for their comfort only, they just have to sit at home, browse online and order it. It provides a wide variety of products and enables customers to compare and research more and more products. The online platform provides so much information about the product, offers discounts, discount codes etc. But this has a disadvantage too, it lacks behind in the face to face interaction with the customers. Customers are concerned about the security of the transactions, size of the cloth etc. it is a lengthy process, if the customer dint like the product or there is some size issue, the customer has to pack, post the thing again and wait for the refund or replacement.
Now, to discuss briefly about the impact on the environment, these online sites affect the environment at large. The packaging materials are made of plastics and it affects the environment. Many large companies have taken initiatives to cut down the use of these packaging materials. They ensure that the manufacturers provide such a package that they do not extra packaging cover.
Need for laws
Our Constitution makers had made three lists for separate levels. According to it, Part 12 of the Constitution gives those three lists, namely, Union list, State list, Concurrent list. The union list is for the matters which the union will look into. The state lists’ matters will be looked into by the State Government and finally, the Concurrent list, whose matters, either state government or the Central Government can make laws. Article 246 of the Indian Constitution talks about the subject matters of laws made by parliament and by the state legislatures. The article talks about the powers of the Union and the states by classifying their powers into 3 lists under the 7th schedule of the Constitution.
The matters like tourism, trade, public health, businesses come under the jurisdiction of the State Government. There is a dire need to establish uniform laws for businesses in the whole country. These online businesses platforms have turned up into proper business mindsets, who want to establish and expand their business across the whole country. Sales and purchase of goods and services is a state matter. And to regulate all these, companies need various online platforms and Information Technology act, which is a matter under the Union List.
For example, in the state of Goa, the Government wants to mandate the cab drivers there to register themselves in the state and make it reliable for safety and security etc. such state-wise rules will greatly affect the business platforms to carry on their business smoothly. This can affect the state’s consumers and income because the particular platform may lose interest in that state.
Another example is about the sale of medicines. Various courts are conflicting through their judgements. The Madras High Court has banned e-pharmacies, then the Delhi HC has banned the online sales of medicines without having a valid license in the case of Zaheer Ahmed v. Union of India (W.P.(C) 11711/2018) for it. In this case, the law applied was the Drug and Cosmetics Act,1940, which is a matter of List I. This has created conflicts between different states as it is applied differently in different States.
Many games are prohibited in many states, and games require the state’s Government’s permission be played on the very state’s websites. Rummy and much other online gambling are punishable under Indian law, but defence to this is that some of the games like, Poker and Rummy are games of skills and game of luck. As a lieu of this judgement, Madras Court also took action against online Rummy and gambling. There should be uniform laws for these so these games should not be state-specific.
When the concept of Goods and Services Tax (GST) was implemented, it did not specify about the taxation on Digital Businesses. Many states tried to impose entertainment taxes on digital platforms, which led to problems in the implementations of the same.
The Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020
E-commerce is one of the most emerging consumer-related problems which was being regularly complained about. So, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, notified the E-commerce Rules, 2020 under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
The act was implemented on 20/07/2020, to regulate all e-commerce activities and transactions. This law lays down duties and liabilities to be followed at sellers on the marketplace, by e-commerce entities etc. the act defines e-commerce under Section 2(16). These rules seem to fit on online retail goods but create conflicts due to various regulations and regulatory compliances
From the article, we can clearly understand the need for uniform laws in the country for various online businesses and other things. There are contradictions at the state and national level for the same. So, the government at the centre should plan out things and take into consideration various situations. The Government should have all digital businesses ruled at the centre level. This will help in ease of doing business. various Constitutional amendments would be required for that, but it will be a great help in the long run to run such an incredible country smoothly.
Frequently Asked Question
- Which article talks about the lists mentioned in the constitution?
Article 246 talks about the subject matters of laws made by parliament and by the state legislatures.
- In which schedule of the Constitution, the lists are there?
In the 7th schedule of the Constitution, all three lists are mentioned.
- Does implementing uniform laws in the country increase online business platforms?
Yes, of course, implementing uniform laws means the whole country will be governed by one law on digital business, which will be very much convenient for all states, courts and of course the business people.
- Do you think states should get powers to decide laws for their country?
This is a question which has not been answered yet, there are certain provisions in the Constitution which gives powers to the states to implement laws on their state, but after all, they are bound to follow the centre guidelines only.
- Should there be uniform laws or laws by state governments only for e-commerce?
According to the above, there is a dire need to implement laws at the centre level itself. If this power is given to the state, the plan of doing business across the whole country would be at stake.
-  The Subject matter of laws made by Parliament and by the Legislatures of States
- (1) Notwithstanding anything in clauses ( 2 ) and ( 3 ), Parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List I in the Seventh Schedule (in this Constitution referred to as the Union List)
- (2) Notwithstanding anything in clause ( 3 ), Parliament, and, subject to clause ( 1 ), the Legislature of any State also, have the power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List III in the Seventh Schedule (in this Constitution referred to as the Concurrent List)
- (4) Parliament has power to make laws with respect to any matter for any part of the territory of India not included (in a State) notwithstanding that such matter is a matter enumerated in the State List
-  Entry 26 of List II and Entry 33 of List III of the Constitution.
-  Entry 6 of List II of the Constitution
-  “buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over a digital or electronic network”