E-commerce major Amazon India on Monday said it is currently investigating an issue, wherein its platform was allegedly used to source marijuana.

On Saturday, an online marijuana sale racket was busted by Bhind police in Madhya Pradesh, leading to the arrest of two persons and seizure of 20 kilograms of the contraband, according to an official.

The accused were operating the racket through a leading e-commerce firm, which received two-thirds of the profits generated, as per the official.

Evidence is being collected to see if it could be prosecuted for providing a platform for such drug transactions, the official added.

An Amazon India spokesperson on Monday said the company operates a marketplace in India (amazon.in), which enables third-party sellers to display, list and offer for sale, products to end customers directly.

Non-compliance issue

“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,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said in case sellers list such products, as an intermediary, it takes strict action as may be required under the law when the same is highlighted to the company.

“The issue was notified to us and we are currently investigating 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,” the spokesperson said.

Arrested on Saturday

Bhind Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Singh said on a tip-off, Kallu Pawaiya (30) and Dhaba owner Brijendra Tomar (35) were arrested from Bhind Gwalior Road on Saturday and recovered 20 kilograms of marijuana.

“Kallu used to source the marijuana from Vishakhapatnam through a reputed international e-commerce firm to Gwalior, Bhopal, Kota, Agra and other areas of the country. Brijendra helped him in the business,” he had said.

Kallu has so far sold one tonne of the contraband and transacted business worth ₹1.1 crore, the SP had said.

“Kallu ran his company under a fake name with PAN and GST number etc. The e-commerce firm got 66.66 per cent of profit from the illicit business. We are collecting evidence to prosecute the e-commerce company under section 29 (part of criminal conspiracy) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act,” Singh had stated.

Traders’ body CAIT on Monday said the marijuana racket incident is a serious offence and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) should also take up the serious issue besides the Madhya Pradesh police.

Security threat

CAIT (Confederation of All India Traders) has also urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan to ensure that the issue should not go into the air.

It is a serious threat to the security of the country in view of the fact that likewise even illegal arms or other illegal activities can also be conducted, it added.

CAIT National President BC Bhartia said police authorities of Madhya Pradesh should take the strictest action against Amazon under the NDPS Act and IPC, and immediately arrest the persons responsible for the operation and management of Amazon.in in India.

He added that by selling marijuana worth more than ₹1 crore and earning a commission of 66 per cent (i.e. over ₹66 Lakhs) through its e-commerce website, Amazon has contravened Section 20(b) of NDPS Act that says “produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports inter-State, exports inter-State or uses cannabis, shall be punishable”.

In the present case, Amazon has not only allowed the use of its platform for the sale of commercial quantities of banned drugs but has actively participated in the sale and earned huge profit to the tune of 66 per cent of the sale value, CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said.

They demanded that in addition to the people already arrested by Madhya Pradesh police, they must arrest the senior management of Amazon, who has facilitated the use of its platform for the sale of marijuana and hence, acted as a drug peddler.