India issues notice to Amazon, others for selling imported refurbished phones


India may be a big market for refurbished and used phones, but it isn’t easy to sell such products in the country.

India’ environment ministry has issued a “show-cause” notice to Amazon India and 20 other e-commerce companies for importing and selling used and refurbished phones and other electronic equipments, Indian Express reports.

Though India allows sales of refurbished and used phones, it requires additional approval if the devices are being imported. Currently, India doesn’t permit sales of imported refurbished phones at all. Earlier this year, Apple’s proposal to sell refurbished iPhones was rejected for a similar reason.

Amazon India announced earlier this month that it has begun sales of refurbished and used phones in the country. India is a big market for used and refurbished phones. Last year, as many as seven million such phones were sold in the country, according to marketing research firm Counterpoint Research. The environment ministry has also issued notices to other ecommerce companies like Snapdeal, eBay, Olx and Quikr.

According to current laws, if a company sells an imported refurbished electronics product, they are violating Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, the ministry said. Section 5 outlines how hazardous and other waste (management and transboundary movement) and e-waste (management and handling) should be handled. Violation of Section 5 could get the offender up to five years of jail time or a fine of $1,500 or both. 

India is concerned that bringing used and refurbished electronic goods to the country will significantly increase the electronics waste. 

All the concerned ecommerce companies have been asked to justify why they were selling imported products and why the Indian government shouldn’t take actions against them. “You are directed to show cause why action shall not be initiated against you for the above stated violations within 15 days, failing which action shall be initiated,” the order states.

Amazon India told the publication that it is complying with local laws, and is doing a detailed evaluation.



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