The ministry of home affairs on 26th March 2020 (Thursday) issued providential guidelines to exempt e-commerce platforms engaged in the delivery of essential goods for the gnawing public after the declaration of 21 days lockdown by the honorable Prime Minister to combat coronavirus pandemic. It is implied that the government is taking all the necessary steps to restrict people from stepping out of their homes.

Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla stated that delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment through e-Commerce will remain operational.

 Due to various reports of e-commerce operations on delivery of essential services getting affected due to indiscriminate police action, the ministry further clarified that all the supply chain of essential goods whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of essential goods through local stores, large brick and mortar stores or e-commerce companies should be allowed to operate ensuring strict social distancing. The Home Secretary said the restaurants supplying home delivery of cooked food items are exempted.

“While warehousing facilities with wholesalers and retailers of essential goods might have non-essential goods, they should not be closed down for the fact that non-essential items are also stored. The retail end of the supply chain shall operate only in essential goods as specified in the orders at the Ministry of Home Affairs. They will provide an undertaking to this effect and also allow a subsequent audit of their records with a view to ensuring compliance,” it said.

Ministry of Home Affairs further cautioned on the movement of those employed in the supply chain and said, “Employees or persons engaged in the supply chain shall be allowed to commute on the basis of e-pass or any other certification Issued by the concerned local authority. In addition, the said employee/ person shall carry a valid photo identification card.”

For the unorganized sectors and ensuring the supplier’s safety, the ministry stated, that persons engaged in the supply of essential goods may be allowed based on approval and authorization issued by the local authority. It, however, directed the States to carry out regular health and sanitation check-up of employees engaged in the supply chain to ensure that they are provided with proper protective gear with ensuring that they engage only bare minimum staff.

The State Government shall open 24×7 control rooms to register complaints and grievances and share these numbers widely.

The order said the following constituents of the supply chain should be permitted to function in respect to Standard Operating Procedure (SOP):

  1. Facilities for storage of such essential goods which may be known as warehouses, godown, etc.
  2. Suppliers of essential goods, including restaurants supplying home delivery of cooked food items.
  3. Manufacturing units of essential goods including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, raw materials, and intermediaries.
  4. Transporters/drivers/loaders etc, of essential goods from the place of manufacture to wholesalers and/or retailers.

Following the said orders of the Centre, many companies like Big Bazaar declared their home delivery services providing state-wise phone numbers.

Bhavya Verma
JEMTEC School of Law


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