Sunday, December 18, 2011

E-Commerce Laws In India

Technology has brought many important changes the way we deal in our day to day lives. Whether it is e-governance or e-commerce, individuals and companies are equally benefited due to use of technology.

Realising that cyberspace can bring many commercial benefits; both individuals and companies are ensuring that they have strong online presence. More and more brand promotion and protection in India are done these days in an online environment. Companies and individuals are also ensuring domain name protection in India so that their reputation and goodwill is not misappropriated by others.

We have no dedicated e-commerce laws in India. However, the information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000), which is the sole cyber law of India, is regulating the e-commerce business and transactions in India. Internet intermediaries liability in India under the IT Act 2000 is very stringent. Cyber law due diligence in India is one aspect that all e-commerce site owners must frequently engage in.

Electronic commerce in India (E-commerce in India) has slowly and steadily entered the Indian market. Toady from tickets booking to purchasing of good and services, everything happens in an online environment.

Of course, where commercial transactions occur, disputes and differences are bound to occur. To prevent and resolve these disputes we need norms, regulations and laws that are acceptable to all the stakeholders.

The e-commerce law of India is primarily incorporated in the information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) that takes cares of legal obligations of both sellers and buyers of good and services in cyberspace.

The IT Act 2000 prescribes rules and norms for online contract formulation. The traditional concepts of offer, acceptance etc, as applicable under the contractual laws, have also been covered by the IT Act 2000. The only difference is that they have been customised as per the requirements of cyberspace.

However, e-commerce transactions and contracts also attract certain additional legal liabilities that e-commerce players in India are not very much aware. For instance, very few e-commerce players in India are aware that they are “intermediaries” within the meaning of IT Act 2000. Further, there are very few e-commerce lawyers and law firms in India that can provide expert services in this regard.

Further, other laws, including intellectual property laws, make these e-commerce players labile for civil and criminal actions. For instance, these e-commerce players can be held liable for online infringement of copyright in India of the copyright owners.

Similarly, if any person posts an offending material at the e-commerce site or otherwise deal with the e-commerce site in an illegal manner, the e-commerce site owner may find himself in trouble.

Cyber law due diligence in India is one aspect that all e-commerce site owners must frequently engage in. The present laws of India are stringent in nature and subsequently claiming ignorance of such laws would not make much difference.

Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) strongly recommend that before opening an e-commerce site or business, the owner of the same must consult a good techno legal law firm that can advice him upon all the possible and applicable aspect of e-commerce laws in India.