Supply of non-essential items to remain prohibited: MHA

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has revised its decision to permit eCommerce companies to deliver non-essential items from 20 April 2020.

20 Apr 2020 | By Abhishek Muralidharan

The reconsideration came after an appeal from trade organisations such as Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which asked for a rethink as the order would have affected a substantial number of traders and local stores in the country. "More than 40 lakh traders are supplying essential goods since lockdown came into effect. Side-lining and ignoring them, eCommerce companies have been allowed to deliver non-essential goods from April 20. When the lockdown was announced these eCommerce companies suspended operations. Today, we want to know what is the need for giving them permission now. We have no objection if they are given permission to provide essential services, but why non-essential goods," said Praveen Khandelwal, CAIT secretary-general.

Piyush Goyal, minister of railways, commerce and industry welcomed the decision stating “This will create a level playing field for small retailers."

Meanwhile, Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group, said, "Appreciate the sentiment. But it’s about sharing misfortune instead of opening up opportunities for good fortune. Could physical retailers be permitted to home-deliver non-essentials? I’d trust my small neighbourhood stores more than eCommerce companies to deliver reliably and speedily."

After the new announcement by the MHA on 19 April, Khandelwal tweeted, “Seven crore traders of India express gratitude to the PM and all the government officials for the notification on prohibiting eCommerce companies to trade in non-essential commodities.”

The decision may come as a hit to eCommerce companies and non-essential goods manufacturers geared up to start its operations as per the earlier announcement on 15 April. “We have just received an update from the MHA suspending eCommerce for non-essential items, affecting our decision about operating from tomorrow. We are studying this, and will update you soon. We will of course follow all government guidelines,” tweeted Manu Kumar Jain of Xiaomi.

The supply of essential goods on eCommerce platforms will continue to be in operation. However, the decision on non-essential items will be in order till 3 May.