List steps taken against e-traders supplying non-essentials: Bombay HC orders Maharashtra govt

A Bombay High Court bench of Justices Ramesh Dhanuka and Madhav Jamdar on Tuesday ordered the Maharashtra government to spell out the steps taken to initiate action against e-commerce traders supplying non-essential materials in violation of lockdown restrictions. The bench has further sought to know from the state the steps it proposes to take to formulate a package for retailers, whose businesses are hit due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.

The judges were hearing a petition filed by Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA), highlighting the huge losses incurred by retailers owing to the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions.

Senior counsel Dipesh Siroya, appearing for the FRTWA, told the bench that despite restrictions, non-essential traders were carrying out their business under e-commerce. “The government SOPs only allow essential services but still non-essential materials are being traded via e-commerce,” Siroya submitted.

The advocate further submitted that the state had come up with a package for hawkers, as they were facing financial issues owing to the restrictions. “Thus, we seek a directive to the authorities to formulate a similar package for retailers too, as their business has shut down completely due to the pandemic. They are also facing financial issues,” he submitted.

Additional Government Pleader Jyoti Chavan submitted that the state would file an affidavit in response to the petition. She further told the bench that the state SOPs only allowed essential services.

At this, Justice Dhanuka said, “But what are these retailers saying? Non-essential material is also being traded via e-commerce. This is a serious issue. Do look into it.”

As far as the prayers in the petition that pertained to waiving of licence fees, property tax and other fees, senior counsel Anil Sakhare for the BMC submitted that these issues would be dealt with by the civic body.

“State is directed to file an affidavit in response to this petition and it must also indicate efforts taken for formulating a package for retailers, whose businesses are hit by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions,” Justice Dhanuka said.

“State to also indicate steps being taken to act against those supplying non-essential services and also the action taken report,” the judge added in his orders.

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