Minister rules out probe into Flipkart's `Big Billion Day' sale

21 October 2014

Commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman has ruled out any inquiry into complaints against e-commerce giant Flipkart's predatory pricing of goods and unfair trade practices during its recent 'Big Billion Day' sale.

Speaking to the media on Monday, the minister said the government had also not planned to institute a probe into the alleged predatory pricing of goods and unfair trade practices in the deep-discount sale by the online retailer.

"I would like to state that no enquiry has been planned or proposed on the e-retailer on the concerns raised by customers on the big billion day sale," Sitharaman told reporters.

Two days after Flipkart's 6 October discount sale, Sitharaman had said the Centre would look into complaints of predatory prices on goods sold by Flipkart after allegations of unfair trade practices were levelled against it during the sale (See: Government to look into complaints against Flipkart's 'Big Billion Day' sale).

"We have received many inputs. Lot of concerns have been expressed. We will look into it," she had said.

But the minister said her earlier remarks had been misinterpreted.

"My earlier three-sentence remarks were interpreted in three million ways on the Flipkart issue," she said.

Sitharaman also declined to comment on tax issues involving another e-retailer, Amazon.

The Karnataka tax department had sent notices to third-party merchants working with Amazon India, directing them to stop storing their products in Amazon's Bangalore fulfilment centre.

The tax authorities apparently claimed that Amazon should pay the sales tax for all the orders through its fulfilment service since they believe that Amazon owns these goods for all "practical" purposes.

Amazon, however, claimed that it is just a service provider and doesn't own goods at any point of sale due to which it is not liable to pay this tax.


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