Wednesday 25 April 2012

Are Online Travel Companies In India Adopting Unfair Practices?

Are online travel agencies in India violating cyber law of India? Are online travel companies in India adopting unfair practices? These are few of the questions that are making round these days.

These doubts and questions are arising because of the nebulous condition of e-commerce law of India. The e-commerce laws in India are still evolving and e-commerce stakeholders in India are not aware of cyber law due diligence in India. Neither the online travel companies nor the online consumers are aware of the consequences of online transactions entered in India in an improper manner.

To further aggravate the position, Indian cyber law is in a poor state of condition. In fact, techno legal experts like Praveen Dalal, managing partner of ICT law firm Perry4Law, have openly suggested repealing of the information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) as it is clearly violating civil liberties in cyberspace.

"Personally, I believe that Indian Cyber law is outdated and it needs urgent repeal," Praveen Dalal said. However, he has been suggesting reforms for the same for the last five years. Dalal also feels that the Indian government is indifferent towards this much needed requisite.

As a result, online travel companies and other e-commerce companies and websites are operating in India with great disregard to the cyber law of India. Further, at times their activities are also suspicious. For instance, many of you must have realised that while booking air or other tickets online, the price of tickets increases substantially suddenly within few seconds.

Numerous complaints have also been lodged in this regard with the online travel companies and agencies of India. The travel portals have sidelined the issue by citing the same as a “technical error”.

This episode has happened in addition to the controversial practice of selling “opaque charges” where the name of the airline is not disclosed till the ticked is booked. Many airlines of India have openly protested against this practice and have either withdrawn their business completely from online travel portals or have reduced it to the sub minimum limits.

There is an urgent need to formulate dedicated laws for online travel companies and agencies of India. Till then the customers have to bear the irregularities and unfair practices on the part of airlines and online travel companies and agencies operating in India. However, they can take sufficient legal actions against both airlines and online travel companies and agencies where the situation and circumstances warrant so.