Representative image
Representative image

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) in a communication sent to Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has said that going one step further, various e-commerce entities even in the ongoing COVID-19 induced national emergency are delivering non-essential goods in blatant contravention of lockdown guidelines imposed by various State Governments.

The CAIT has also sent similar communications to Chief Ministers of all States urging them to take immediate cognisance of this violation by e-commerce portals.

The CAIT said that the sole purpose of the lockdown is to limit human-to-human interaction and reduce exposure of the general population to the COVID-19 virus and thereby break the chain of the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, all non-essential activities, including the sale and delivery of non-essential items, are prohibited during the lockdown by ordering the shops to close in all such States.

It said that as a part of "break the chain", the State Governments have banned the sale and delivery of non-essential goods and services. The business community across the country has implemented these orders in letter and spirit even though it has caused severe economic hardship to the traders. It is a matter of great astonishment that some multinational behemoths, in blatant violation of Government instructions/orders, are selling non-essential goods under the garb of essential goods and are putting at risk, the lives of a large number of people engaged in selling, warehousing, transportation, last mile delivery and of customers to whom deliveries are being made.

Such e-commerce sale and delivery defeats the very purpose of the lockdown and increases exposure to the virus multifold only because of the lust of these companies to increase their market share by selling non-essential items.

CAIT said that sale of non-essential items through e-commerce does not reduce the risk of exposure and spread of virus to the public but only shifts that risk from one set of people to the other set of people who generally belong to more vulnerable sections of the society and have to risk their lives to earn their living.

The multinational behemoths cannot be allowed to put the life of Indian citizens at risk to earn a few bucks and to further their businesses which are already riled up in several illegalities and are being investigated by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for predatory pricing and deep discounting and by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999.

The traders across the Country are highly perturbed to see that since a past long time these e-commerce companies are continuing their malpractices and violation of rules and policy without any fear of law and it is further regretted that so far no action has been taken by any Government agency to nail them in spite of your clear directions reiterated several times at different forums. Such a situation has compelled the traders to believe that complying rules and policy are applicable for traders only and these companies have been given free hand to violate the rules and control and dominate not only the e-commerce but also the retail trade of India.

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