Online shopping has picked up a desirable pace in this growing digital world.
The concept of digital India has certainly opened manifold opportunities, and
platforms for e-commerce businesses and various online shopping websites have
successfully thrived. Lately, because of prevailing reasons such as enlargement
in technology, easy access, convenience and comfort, and many more.
Although these are some of the rationales justifying the golden side of
e-commerce websites, there are multiple considerable aspects in which it can
certainly be a drawback for the economy and the public in general. In simpler
words, online shopping applications and websites under the e-commerce fraternity
are the marketplaces for retailers and consumers. Hence, it seemingly attracts
some provisions and laws abided rules which can also be considered safety
protocols for consumer safety.
Need for legal compliance for E-Commerce Websites
Online shopping is now quite prevalent in metropolitan cities because of its
convenience and broader options. But buyers are left disappointed or cheated in
numerous instances as well. Many e-commerce consumers have been filing
complaints at consumer forums/boards as dictated by Pratima Narayan, a lawyer on
e-commerce who has expertise in consumer law. She adds that these complaints are
registered under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
The Act applies in endorsement of the safety of e-commerce consumers. However,
there stand many more legal issues concerning mobile e-commerce applications.
Besides the laws that are supposed to be adhered to by every company in India to
be legally competent, like the service tax Act, Companies Act, and Income Tax
Act, online shopping applications under e-commerce websites are required to
adhere to IT Act, Copyright Act, Patents Act, etc.
Basic legal requirements for the mobile app-based business comprise various
legal obligations such as app charges, app platform, data security, trade
secrets, employee handbook, vendor agreements, and many such, which are crucial
tools developed for maintaining safety standards and authenticity of the
policies obtainable to their users and consumers, which is obliged as part of
the intermediary regulations as per IT Rules, 2011. Moreover, a grievance
officer's name and contact details are a legal mandate for online e-commerce
Legal framework for e-commerce websites in India
- Consumer Protection Act, 2019
- Information Technology Amendment Act, 2000
- Policies laid down by regulatory bodies like the Reserve Bank of India,
Indian Medical Association (IMA), etc., rely on the product/service traded.
For example, IMA regulations will apply in subjects where medicines are sold
Following are the other legal compliances that online shops must follow:
- User Data Protection (GDPR)
- Legal notice and information of the business/company
- Cookies policy
- Cyber security in payments
- Unambiguous navigation and UX
- E-commerce contract
- Consent to Communications Intellectual property rights
- E-commerce rules as per the payments and systems settlements Act, 2007
G Surrarchita Reddy v/s Flipkart Internet Private Limited
The case was filed with the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The
case highlighted the provisions of Sec 79 of the Information Technology Act,
2000, the Copyright Act, 1957, The Trade Marks Act, 1999, and the Sales Of Goods
Act, 1930. In this case, the issue addressed also pertains to the non-delivery
of the product ordered by the plaintiff /complainant and the revocation of the
same by the e-commerce platform without the consent of the customer/ plaintiff.
It was further noted that sec 79 of the IT Act is not applicable in the given
The moment any e-commerce buyer or consumer places an order for a product on the
e-commerce website or an application, there is an implied service contractual
obligation on the e-commerce platform, and it goes without saying, despite terms
of use and disclaimer policy. Thus, it imposed liability on the e-commerce
platform for not meeting the standard delivery norms timeline and for negligence
and misconduct. Provided facts, issues, and findings, the opposite party was
ordered to pay 1000/- as a compensation claim and 1000/- for the litigation
Fashnear Technology Private Ltd v/s Meesho Online Shopping Pvt Ltd
The case pertains to e-commerce frauds carried out by using the domain name of
this online shopping application. The owner of the website or the complainant
has filed a suit, and the court observed that the plaintiff's original domain
name had been infringed and various illegal activities were being carried out on
the company's name. Further investigation by the court ordered for the blocking
orders of those fake domain names and to ensure that no other fake domain in the
name of "Meesho" is registered or manipulated by them, considering consumer
safety as a priority.
Further, a thorough investigation considering similar aspects revealed that
there had been numerous other cases reported where the original/ registered
domain name of the website was infringed and being operated fraudulently and
Customers and the public at large are being tricked and cheated.
Online Fake Jobs
Many websites offer online jobs but most of them are fake. Then they issue legal
notices through their fake advocates. The online employers threaten the young
unemployed and extract money. The victims need not worry about it. They may
either ignore such legal notices, WhatsApp messages or approach the nearest
police station and lodge complaints.
The unemployed youth must be very careful while accepting such online jobs. They
cannot do anything but the unemployed youth pay the online employers small
amounts as penalties, fines for violations or non complying the rules and
regulations of such employers.
However, the growth of e-commerce businesses and online shopping applications
like Myntra, Urbanic, Flipkart, Amazon, and many more are quite evident in
India. Numerous big industries are also investing in such marketplaces in India,
leading to both positive and negative aspects.
On the flip side, E-commerce fraud is increasing, including credit/ debit card
fraud, cybersquatting, hacking, online shopping and auction deception
on-delivery of the product, default in payment, receiving a cheap quality
product, and failure by such e-commerce websites and shopping sites to disclose
the relevant information and terms of sale. As a user, you can consider security
measures while shopping online through any e-commerce website or application.
You can check whether the website has encrypted protocols and certificates to
prove vendors' identity, confidential and authenticated service, and 3-D
security protocols to secure online payment via debit and credit card.
Nonetheless, buyers must research the website before indulging in any
interaction or putting in personal information and before ordering a product.