Govt. bans e-commerce platforms from delivering non-essential items after the pressure from small traders


In an announcement the government prohibited the sale of non-essential items through e-commerce platforms during the ongoing lockdown, four days after allowing such companies to sale mobile phones, refrigerators and ready-made garments.

Union Home Ministry issued an order excluding the non-essential items from sale by the e-commerce companies from the consolidated revised guidelines, which listed the exemption given to the services and people from the purview of the lockdown.

The order said the following clause — “E-commerce companies. Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions” — is excluded from the guidelines.

The previous news for customers as the government has allowed the e-commerce websites to deliver non-essential items from April 20. The services were disrupted due to the lockdown imposed by the government to contain the spread of Coronavirus but not any more. The e-commerce websites like Amazon and Flipkart are only delivering essential grocery and medical items. However, due to the surge in orders, the e-commerce giants were unable to fulfill the demands and had to refrain from taking new orders.

But the Home Ministry came out with an order revoking permissions given to e-commerce companies. The Home Ministry order issued the following clause — “Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions” — is excluded from the guidelines.

However, the reason for reversing the order is not known immediately.

Earlier the Congress party highlighted the plight of retail traders during lockdown, alleging the government is doing “injustice” to them by allowing only e-commerce companies to sell non-essential items. Congress senior spokesperson demanded a level-playing field for retailers and asked the Home Ministry to issue guidelines for online sales.

The move is likely to come as jolt to e-commerce companies which had begun preparing for full-scale operations and hoped this would help revive the retail economy.

Sources said the development is a result of pressure put by various traders’ groups, including the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). It had on April 18 written to the government that at a time when local traders were not allowed to deal in non-essential items, allowing e-commerce platforms to do so would create trade imbalance and that the trading community was very disappointed with the government decision to give e-commerce companies a free run.