With rogue sellers\nflooding the online marketplace with fake and even stolen goods, including high-end\nmobile phones, customers need to beware. Under current laws, buyers in India\ncannot retain any stolen goods and are required to report such products in\ntheir possession to the police. But they have remedies to claim a refund,\nreplacement and damages.What may cause concern\nto consumers in this fast-paced life is that they would be required to go\nthrough legal remedies to claim refunds or damages as despite the Indian\ne-commerce market expected to grow by 37% to touch $ 20 billion by the end of\nthe fiscal (as per a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India), few\nsteps have been taken to provide blanket protection or insurance to consumers\nto shield them from unscrupulous traders.Unethical PracticesAccording to\nForrester12 Research report, the e-tailing revolution in India is primarily\nriding on the back of firms dealing in consumer electronics, travel and online\nbooks. And consumer electronics are emerging as the favourite destination for\ncheats and thieves to peddle fake and stolen wares.Two recent cases\nshould be a wake-up call for consumers and government alike.This past week, Delhi\nPolice nabbed six persons for stealing 600 high-end mobile phones from a\ncity-based logistic company’s premises in the cargo area of Delhi airport and\nselling them to unsuspecting customers through e-commerce retailer Flipkart.Some of the stolen\nphones were subsequently recovered from people who had purchased them online.\nIn response to police summons, Flipkart said: “Each and every one of our\n40,000-plus sellers are mandated to adhere to stringent guidelines. Any exception\nor violation is taken very seriously. We enforce a strict policy of zero\ntolerance against unscrupulous sellers who sell products that are fake, stolen,\nor in violation of any laws of the land.”Protection From Cyber CheatsUnder current laws, buyers in India cannot\nretain any stolen goods and are supposed to approach policeFew steps have been taken to provide blanket\nprotection to consumers to shield them from unscrupulous tradersRecent case of stolen mobile phones being sold\non online portal should be a wake-up callE-commerce sites cannot shrug their shoulders,\nas law puts the onus on themConsumers can seek legal remedy in case of negligence\nby e-commerce companiesKeeping a Tab on Cyber\nCrimeBut cyber law expert\nPavan Duggal believes that the responsibility of the service providers does not\nend with such statements alone. Speaking to The Quint, he said: “Under the\nInformation Technology Act 2000, the intermediary or the network service\nprovider is liable in cases of sale of stolen or fake goods as they are\nmandated to exercise due diligence. Section 79 of the IT Act requires service\nproviders to adopt reasonable security practices and procedures to prevent any\nwrongdoing. In the event of stolen goods being sold through online portals, the\nservice provider would be liable to replace goods and would also be liable\ncriminally for such offences if they take place due to their negligence.”Another area of major\nconcern for the cyber police is the sale of fake products online. With major\nplayers like Apple launching newer versions of mobile phones ahead of the\nfestive season, the need for vigil has become even more pronounced.Ahead of the launch of\nApple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in China late in September, the country was already\nflooded with their fakes. These were also being marketed openly by certain\nsites and with India being a major importer from China, it would not be\nsurprising if many of these would have already found their way into the\ncountry.Only a couple of\nmonths ago, there was a major haul of fake India-assembled Apple iPhone5 and iPhone6\nsmartphones in New Delhi.The recoveries were made\nfrom a “trusted name” in mobile phones and accessories based at Lotus Plaza in\nKarol Bagh which also happened to be one of the biggest importers of mobile\nphones and accessories with offices in India, China and Africa. Apart from the\ncounterfeit iPhones a large amount of assembling material for other smartphones\nwas also recovered. The unit was marketing the fakes through Flipkart, Amazon\nand Shopclues.com, claimed the Delhi Police.Addressing Consumer GrievanceIn the event of such\nnegligence by the e-commerce companies, Duggal said there is no exemption for\nthem from liability and the consumers can sue them.“Consumers have legal\nremedies at their disposal. They can claim a refund from the service provider\nfor selling them fake or stolen goods. They can seek replacement of such goods\nwith genuine ones. Consumers can also file for damages under the IT Act in special\ncourts that operate in every state and in which adjudication officers have\npowers to pay fines of up to Rs 5 crore,” he said.Unlike civil courts,\nconsumers can expect speedy disposal of their cases in these courts which are\nrequired to conduct summary trials that are stipulated by Parliament to be\ncompleted within nine months.On the issue of cyber\ninsurance, Duggal said while some countries have an elaborate system in place\nwhich protects the consumers, in India the system is still in a stage of\ninfancy and only a few insurance companies have ventured into it.“The government, if it\nwants, can protect consumers under the IT Act by either legislating amendments\nin Parliament or by introducing rules under Section 79 of the Act,” he said. So\nat a time when another festive season is drawing near and online sales are\nabout to witness another boom, the ball is now in government’s court to insure\nconsumers against fraud.(The writer is a Delhi-based freelance journalist) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.