Traders’ body presses charges of 'drug peddling' against Amazon

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The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) wants the alleged sale of marijuana on Amazon’s e-commerce portal to be investigated by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). The demand comes after the Madhya Pradesh police raided a warehouse in Gwalior that was functioning as a fulfillment centre for the e-commerce giant and allegedly found more than 380 packets of marijuana camouflaged as kadi patta (curry leaves).

Addressing a press conference, B.C. Bhartia, National President, CAIT, and Praveen Khandelwal, the organisation’s secretary general, urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to ensure that the police authorities of Madhya Pradesh take ‘strictest’ action against Amazon under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and the Indian Penal Code and immediately arrest the people responsible.

“By selling marijuana worth more than Rs 1 crore and earning a commission of 66% (i.e. over Rs 66 lakhs) through its e-commerce website, Amazon has contravened Section 20(b) of NDPS Act that says anybody who ‘produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports inter-state, exports inter-state or uses cannabis, shall be punishable,” said the CAIT leaders.

While the MP police has already arrested some people, Bhartia and Khandelwal are seeking arrest of Amazon’s senior management alleging that they facilitated the use of the platform for sale of marijuana and, hence, acted as a drug peddler. “Why a technology giant who uses its Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning abilities to identify and copy products of poor MSMEs and other Indian manufactures for creating own private label products does not use the same capabilities to identify the sale of illegal/banned products such as marijuana?,” asked Bhartia and Khandelwal.

The traders’ body has been waging a campaign against e-commerce giants even before the marijuana case. CAIT has alleged in the past that Amazon has built its business in India by floating the norms prescribed under the Foreign Exchange Management Act and the Foreign Direct Investment policy. It had also accused Amazon of following anti-competitive practices.