E-commerceIndustry in today’s scenario has becomeone of the important area for the government to look upon, as India’se-commerce market has reached USD 20 billion as per the report of Internet andMobile Association of India (IAMAI) and up to 34% of the population isaccessible to the internet(1). Due to its vast impact andutilization the e-commerce industry had a large impact on various industries inthe country especially the telecommunication and online trading industry. Thusthe government has to regulate and control the working of it in a systematicmanner, Although there are various laws such as, The Consumer Protection Act1986(CPA), The Sale of Goods Act 1930, The Information Technology Act 2000(ITAct) and The Indian Contract Act 1872 etc. to protect the rights ofe-consumers. Under the CPA, as per the definition of theconsumer, laid under Sec.2(1)(d) of the act where it defines the term consumeras, ‘Any person who buys any goods or hires any service for a considerationwhich has been paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised or under anysystem of deferred payment'(2). Thus consideration which has beenpaid or promised or partly paid or partly promised makes a person consumerunder CPA.
Along with the definition of a consumer we can also refer to thedefinitions of deficiency, service and trader. Interpreting the definitions weget a see that in some sense we could relate e-consumerism to the act but thereis no dedicated provision to deal with the e-commerce industry. As the act doesnot specifically speak about and define the term ‘e-consumer’, it is silentabout the court’s jurisdiction to try such matters. We also require a properregulatory mechanism for the online trading and transactions as the act doesnot specify about digital transactions as such. There is always a high risk ofyour personal data being leaked out as you jump through various websites.
Thusthere is need for the introduction of this component into the act, and hence weneed an amendment to the present legislation regulating various aspects ofe-consumerism. Moving onto the Sale ofGoods Act 1930, which speaks about various concepts like, Contract of sale,Formalities of a contract, Conditions and warranties and also variousdefinitions such as buyer, goods, delivery etc(3).But the act doesnot specify about the aspects of what kind of information related to the goods to be sold are to be given to ae-consumer as he is not going to examine the product personally and has to relyon what details the e-retailer has provided.
In the IT Act 2000 itdiscusses about the electronic commerce and cybercrime, it recognizeselectronic records and digital signatures. It is first legislation to discussabout electronic transactions and trading’s. But it does not narrows down andspeak specifically about the concept of e-consumerism.(4)The Indian Contract Act1872, is the legislation that we largely follow when it comes to e-commerce andonline trading because of which the liability of the manufacturer falls underthe contractual liability and not that of a buyer-seller relationship. Wegeneralize the idea of consumer when we include e-Consumerism under the act andthus we need a specific legislation for regulating the aspect of e-consumerism.
By doing that we also provide a platform for the e-consumers to report their cases directly tothe forum and not a civil suit in a sessions court.(5) Thus there isbill pending in the Loksabha which introduces the concept of e-consumerism andaddress various issues that we are currently facing with the presentlegislations. The bill also introduces a special branch for the investigationof the consumer cases.