On May 9, 2022, the Department of Consumer Affairs hosted a one-day “National Workshop on Legal Metrology Act, 2009” chaired by Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, to solicit opinions from all stakeholders regarding the question of decriminalizing the act while maintaining a balance between consumers and industries. To remove pointless interference, the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 has been examined for decriminalization. The event was also graced by speeches from the Union Minister of State for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, and the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and Rural Development, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. The National Workshop was required to strike a balance between consumer interests and the need to simplify loss so that businesses would not be subjected to undue difficulty or inconvenience. The decriminalization of the legislation was important to be taken into consideration for the smooth operation of running the business by reducing needle interference because there was a need to maintain the balance between consumers and industries.
WHAT IS LEGAL METROLOGY ACT, 2009?
The Legal Metrology Act is the primary instrument that creates and upholds the weights and measures standards for the LMPC (Legal Metrology Packaged Commodity). The statute also controls how weights and measures are traded in the nation. Legal Metrology is a division of the Department of Consumer Affairs that was created in 2009 and is tasked with overseeing and regulating enterprises that produce, import, and use weighing and measuring instruments and equipment. The Legal Metrology Act’s Chapter V lists the numerous offences and associated penalties. However, violations of the act are criminal offences and are subject to the punishments outlined in both the statute and the Indian Penal Code.
LEGAL METROLOGY DECRIMINALIZATION PROPOSED AMENDMENTS
PENALTIES AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES
The fine should be increased, going from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh. The cancellation of the offender’s license should be one of the punishments. Whether the offender is a frequent offender or a habitual offender, he may have to pay a fine and have his license suspended as a result. A punishment of Rs. 5000 may be imposed on the violator if he is a manufacturer or importer. For someone who has committed the offence for the first time, the punishment will rise to between 5,000 and 25,000. The punishment will increase to a minimum of 50,000 and one lakh on the offender for the following offence or the chronic offender.
INTRODUCTION TO SECTION 36 (1) A
Section 36 (1) A has been introduced to target the sale of commodities above MRP. It has been suggested that, following section 36 (1) A, the first-time offender must pay a fine of 5000 rupees, and for any consecutive offences, he must pay a minimum of 50,000 rupees and one lakh rupees, respectively.
INCREASE OF FINE ON LMA OFFENCES
A fine of Rs 2000 will be issued where the wholesaler or retailer is responsible for the crimes. A fine of Rs 5000 will be issued if the offender is a manufacturer or importer. It is considered a compoundable offence under Section 32(3)of the Act and is subject to a punishment of Rs 2000.
WORKSHOP FOR THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF LEGAL METROLOGY ACT’S OBJECTIVE
The workshop’s major goal is to prevent short-shifting of the customer by the use of non-standard weighted measures and inaccurate disclosure without adding to the burden on the company or impeding economic growth. The workshop’s stakeholders were consulted to assess the success of the Legal Metrology Act’s decriminalization. The goal is to lighten the load on a company while fostering investor confidence. The two main objectives are to concentrate on economic expansion and consumer interest protection. It is crucial to assess the nature of non-compliance in the case of fraud detection since Mens rea, or mala fide intention plays a significant part in the imposition of criminal liability
WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF LEGAL METROLOGY?
Bailable and non-cognizable offenses fall within the legal metrology or weight and measure category. The criminal cannot be arrested only based on one person’s report because these offenses have already begun. Additionally, the investigation cannot be conducted only based on the complaint. Only in the magistrate’s direction will an investigation and an arrest be made. The idea of discriminating against legal metrology infractions has been made while taking numerous other aspects into account.
The decision of the Department of Consumer Affairs to organize a workshop at the national level which was headed by Piyush Goyal for the decriminalization of the Legal Metrology Act and certain offenses that came under it holds a significant step towards the betterment of consumer interests. Many a time, in day-to-day life it happens that shopkeepers either wholesalers or retailers sell the products at price above the MRP, and even after knowing the laws they ignore it and continue to sell the products at a rate they decide. Few of them after being held liable or after the complaint is registered against them give excuses that they were not aware of the law and then continue to do the same. But, for the same situation, there is a maxim that states “Ignorantia Juris Non-Excusat” which is a legal principle that says one cannot avoid responsibility or avoid liability for breaking a law just because they are ignorant of its provisions or are unaware of its content. For offenders doing the same offenses as explained above, section 36 (1) A of the Legal Metrology Act has also been introduced which in my opinion rightly sets up the punishment for the offense. Further, talking about the objective of the workshop, in my opinion, it was a significant step to prevent short-shifting of the customer by the use of non-standard weighted measures. It was indeed a necessary step to encourage India’s business environment and to ensure that rules intended to protect consumers aren’t being abused to target businessmen.
Author(s) Name: Kashish Srivastava (Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies,
Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, ‘National Workshop to discuss the decriminalization of Legal Metrology Act,2009’ (Press Information Bureau, Delhi, May 8, 2022) <https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1823619> accessed on July 5, 2022
‘National Workshop to discuss decriminalization of Legal Metrology Act,2009’ (The Print, May 8, 2022) <https://theprint.in/india/national-workshop-to-discuss-decriminalization-of-legal-metrology-act-2009-on-monday/947555/>accessed on July 5, 2022
Legal Metrology Act,2009, ch v
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