The Gujarat High Court has issued notice in a petition calling for Government directions that “place of manufacture” of products sold over e-commerce portals to be displayed to prospective consumers (Yatin S. Soni v. Union of India and Ors).
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala has directed the Union of India, to file a response to the petition by affidavit.
The plea has been moved by Yatin Sureshbhai Soni, an Ahmedabad-based lawyer, who is appearing party-in-person.“There are large number of people, who wish to give preference to purchase products which are ‘Made in India’ and manufactured by Indian Companies, if available in the open market as they belong to Swadeshi School of thought.”Soni, in his Petition
Soni states that the plea is being filed “in public interest” to achieve the State’s object of self-reliance, or “atmanirbharat abhiyan” as highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a televised public address.
While taking note of the popularity of e-commerce websites for retail shopping, the petitioner points out that it is impossible to ascertain a particular product’s country of manufacture.
The petition argues that this information should be disclosed from both the Constitutional rights and consumer protection perspective.
He submits that such disclosure is imperative in furthering a citizen’s right to be informed, a facet of the Constitutional right to free speech, as well as principles of consumer protection.
Therefore, the Court has now been urged to direct the government entities to mandate e-commerce websites to specify the following details:
- The nationality of the company and place of manufacture of the product,
- The percentage of Indian stakeholding in the company, where the company is “foreign” but has Indian investment,
- Colours to identify each of the above categories and sub-categories, so as to inform “illiterate and semi-literate persons” of these categories and the place of origin of products.
The petition further prays that the government be directed to penalise any non-disclosure of such requested information.
The case is expected to be next taken up on July 29, once the Union files its affidavit in response to the petition.