The Central Government on Sunday has maintained the prohibition on the supply of non-essential goods by E-Commerce companies during the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown. The clarification comes after a lot of questions were raised by the Opposition and other traders about the government's decision.
Under the first phase of lockdown between March 24 - April 14, the government had only allowed delivery of essential goods, including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment through e-commerce platforms. Earlier this week, the Home Affairs Ministry issued fresh guidelines for the lockdown -- which has been extended till May 3 -- seemingly allowing e-commerce companies to sell non-essential items as well.
Government of India
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
Dated: 19th April 2020
Supply of non-essential goods by E-Commerce companies to remain prohibited during lockdown : Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
The latest guidelines were issued by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that the initial lockdown of three weeks is being extended until May 3.
The government, in a statement on Wednesday, said, “Digital economy is critical to the services sector and is important for national growth. Accordingly, e-commerce operations, operations of IT and IT enabled services, data and call centres for Government activities, and online teaching and distance learning are all permitted activities now.”
As per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the vehicles that are used by e-commerce companies will be allowed to ply with permission.“Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions,” the guidelines read. However, the guidelines released on Wednesday did not distinguish between essential and non-essential items.
Organisations like the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had called the the Centre decision seemingly allowing e-commerce companies to deliver non-essential goods from April 20, while the lockdown is still in force as "unjust" and said that it will discourage more than 40 lakh traders dealing in essential commodities in the country who catered to the nation during the lockdown phase.