What the law says about online transactions
The attack of Covid-19 makes us stay more at home. The situation makes it harder for the people to go out and buy daily necessities, but in this time of technological advancement, the online marketplace becomes the alternative place of getting daily necessities.
This process has helped people to avoid the risk of getting infected, but there are always some criminals who always want to take advantage of such a situation by doing harm to the people. Deceit is, nowadays, done through using the internet-based commercial podiums.
In most cases of fraud, customers did not get the goods they ordered. Sometimes, they received parcels containing cheap, outdated goods like potatoes and onions.
After watching all this news, I cannot but help think about the possible ways victims can demand justice, or where they can lodge a complaint, or what the provisions are there in our law regarding fraudulent activities on e-commerce platforms.
There are some laws which are applicable for e-commerce platforms for example the Penal Code, 1860; Contract Act, 1872; Sale of Goods Act, 1930; Special powers Act, 1974; Bangladesh Standard and Testing Ordinance, 1985; Consumer Protection Act, 2009; Trade Marks Act, 2009.
According to Section 52 of Contract Act 1872, when a purchaser clicks the button of “I Agree” or “Purchase,” he/she acknowledges the contract, and if any party breaches the contract the other party can take action under Section 53 of the contract act.
They can also claim compensation for breach of contract under Section 54 of the contract act. Though the e-commerce platform is not mentioned in these provisions, it can be used to adjudicate the legal issues.
Section 264-267 of chapter XIII of Bangladesh Penal Code 1860 gives guidelines regarding false instruments of weighing, fraudulent use of weighing, and so on, and if we use it on e-commerce platforms, it can be a safeguard against fraud relating to weight.
The Sale of Goods Act 1930 dictates the contract relating to the sale of goods. According to Section 56, if the buyer wrongfully rejects the good then the seller can sue him for non-acceptance. The seller can also be sued by the buyer if he delivers the product in a wrongful manner.
Section 30-32 of the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution Ordinance, 1985 provided some guidelines which protect certain rights of the consumers by considering some acts as offenses, for example improper use of a standard mark, disregard of exports, or sale restrictions.
Section 25C of the Special Powers Act, 1974 states that any person who sells adulterated food, articles, drinks, cosmetics which are unfit for health can be punished with the death penalty, life imprisonment, or with rigorous imprisonment for 14 years. This can also be applied to e-commerce platforms.
Sections 40-51 of chapter IV of the Consumer Protection Act, 2009 provide the punishment for any act which threatens the rights of consumers. To file a complaint, there are some grounds under which the complaint will be lodged, and they are:
When any product, service, or medicine is sold or being sold at a rate more than the fixed-rate
When any adulterated product or medicine is sold or being sold knowingly
When any food product mixed with materials injurious to health is sold or being sold
Using false and untrue statements in advertisements in order to deceive the buyers
Non-delivery or supply of any product or service after payment
Providing underweight or short measured product
Use of such weight, instrument for weighing, or yardstick tape by any seller which displays less than the perfect weight or measure
Manufacturing or producing false medicine
When any expired medicine or product is sold or is being sold
When any defective product or unsatisfactory service is provided
As online shopping includes cyber threats, the Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006, can work as a safeguard against illegal data collection, intentionally obstructing computer systems.
Lastly, I would like to conclude by saying that some criminals are using information technology to deceive people and many of us don’t know the remedial processes against it, but with cooperation from the government, the law can indeed be used to protect people from fraud.
Samiul Azim is a graduate student of law, North South University.