New Delhi: E-commerce giant Amazon has been accused of using its 'predatory playbook' to killing Indian brands by copying and rigging. The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) and the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Thursday denounced Amazon for such practices and urged the Centre for timely intervention.
The condemnation is probably triggered by a report in Reuters on Wednesday which revealed that Amazon team in India "secretly exploited internal data from Amazon.in to copy products sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform", and also "rigged Amazon's search results" so that the company's products would appear on top.
In a statement, Sijo Kuruvilla George, Executive Director, ADIF, made the disclosure about Amazon's blatant disregard for competition laws, intellectual property rights and disgraceful predatory practices.
"The manner in which the e-commerce giant has targeted the Indian market and leading brands in the country is highly deplorable and brings into question the credibility of Amazon as a good faith operator in the Indian startup ecosystem," George said.
The report alleged that among the victims of Amazon's anti-market practices was a popular shirt brand in India called John Miller that is owned by Kishore Biyani-founded Future Group, a firm that is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Amazon.
CAIT National President B.C. Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said in a statement that copying the products and rigging the search has an "ulterior design to kill the domestic small manufacturers and traders in the country, directly contravening 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi".
They demanded an immediate CBI investigation into the charges made in the report, and an earlier story that brought to the fore alleged bribery to the government officials through the legal counsels by Amazon.
Bhartia and Khandelwal said that a CAIT delegation will soon meet Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, and press for its demand for an immediate CBI enquiry and other necessary actions by the government.
"Meanwhile, the CAIT is also convening a meeting of its national board composed of prominent trade leaders of all states to decide future course of action on this issue," the statement said.
Amazon has been at the receiving end of criticisms in India related to alleged bribery by its legal representatives and associated legal firms in the country.
The company is also facing an inquiry by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) over alleged anti-competitive practices and a parallel inquiry by Enforcement Directorate for violation of domestic laws.
The Directorate General of Goods and Service Tax Intelligence (DGGI) has also issued a show-cause notice to one of its subsidiaries, Cloudtail, for evasion of GST and indirect taxes.
Amazon has also legally challenged Future Group's deal with Reliance Retail to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehouse businesses to Reliance Retail Ventures.
ADIF's George said that the new findings, which serve as incriminating evidence, also ratify the allegations and fears of various stakeholders.
"It's worth noting that Amazon has on multiple occasions, including during formal hearings, denied any wrongdoing that involves making use of consumer data to drive advantage for its own brands and products," he noted.
(With inputs from IANS)