Traders' body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has demanded the Central Government and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) take strict action against Amazon for the alleged sale of marijuana via its e-commerce site. Last week, the Madhya Pradesh Police claimed that it had busted a drug peddling gang that was moving more than 1,000 kilograms of the prohibited drug in packages carrying Amazon's branding. The CAIT has asked Home Minister Amit Shah and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan to ensure that the issue “should not go in the air” and called it a serious threat to national security.
On the basis of the initial investigation, the CAIT said in a press conference on Monday that the state police raided an Amazon warehouse in Gwalior on Sunday where more than 380 packets of marijuana camouflaged as curry leaves. The traders' body claimed that drug had been sold and fulfilled from the warehouse.
CAIT National President BC Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal alleged that by selling marijuana worth more than Rs. 1 crore, Amazon was earning a commission of 66 percent.
“Amazon has contravened Section 20(b) of NDPS (Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act that says ‘produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports inter-State, exports inter-State or uses cannabis, shall be punishable',” the CAIT claimed in a press statement.
Bhatia and Khandelwal demanded that Amazon and its top management should be punished under Section 20 (ii)(c) of the NDPS Act. Both also raised the question of why Amazon did not use its artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) abilities to identify the sale of illegal and banned products including marijuana.
“The answer is simple, because they have the least regard for Indian people and Indian laws when it comes to growing their business,” Bhatia and Khandelwal claimed.
The CAIT also urged the government agencies including NCB to conduct searches for similar stock at other warehouses of Amazon. It also demanded the government and income tax authorities to investigate if the alleged supply of the drug is linked to any anti-national activities including money laundering and/ or funding for terrorist activities or Naxalite activities.
According to the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Madhya Pradesh Police, a copy of which is with Gadgets 360, the accused were identified on Saturday. The FIR, however, does not explicitly define any role of Amazon in the matter. A report from Hindustan Times mentioned that it asked Amazon to explain if it would be able to verify the sellers that allegedly transported the drug through its online platform. The company did not respond to the police, the report said.
Gadgets 360 has reached out to Amazon India for a comment on the matter, and received the following statement from a spokesperson:
“Amazon operates a marketplace in India (amazon.in), which enables third-party sellers to display, list and offer for sale, products to end-customers directly. Amazon has a high bar on compliance and contractually our sellers are required to comply with all applicable laws for selling their products on amazon.in. We do not allow the listing and sale of products which are prohibited under law to be sold in India. However, in case sellers list such products, as an intermediary, we take strict action as may be required under the law, when the same is highlighted to us. The issue was notified to us and we are currently investigating it whether there is any non-compliance on part of the seller. We assure full co-operation and support required to Investigating Authorities and Law Enforcement agencies with ongoing investigations and ensure full compliance to applicable laws.”
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