Safe-guarding Consumers' Interests in E-Commerce

India has been witnessing rapid growth in e-commerce since the past few decades with new companies coming up. Improved safety in online transaction environment and measures like cash-on-delivery offered by a few companies has motivated Indian consumers to place their trust in online shopping. Although internet transactions have increased accessibility for consumers and made purchases much easier, there still remain many shortcomings that have not been satisfactorily dealt with. While growth of this industry is far-reaching, there are gaps in the regulation and laws governing e-commerce that continue to exist. Thus, the main objective of the project was to strongly recommend to the Government for specific regulations on e-commerce, and for setting up of an exclusive online consumer disputes redressal forum that would facilitate in resolving consumer disputes that arise with online traders across states and within the country.

 

Major problems continued to be faced by consumers include issues around delivery, privacy infringement, lack of redress avenues, etc. Besides, the unique structure of the internet raises several judicial concerns. The existing legal framework has its own limitations. With the internet having no national geographical limits, establishing cyber jurisdiction becomes a difficult task. And, in cross-border transactions, “applicable law” poses a serious issue. CAG’s earlier studies - ‘Assessment of potential trade abuse by Indian e-commerce websites’ and ‘Enhancing rights of online consumers in India’ revealed that there were several unfair trade practices that were prevalent due to absence of explicit regulations and a regulatory body to assess and monitor on-line purchasing. Another issue that still remains unaddressed is the absence of an effective consumer disputes redressal means, exclusively for e-consumers. Above all, consumer awareness about online shopping is much required in the present day to make informed decisions.