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Central Government for Graded Penalty Under Legal Metrology

Introduction

  1. The Central Government has graded penalties for minor offenses committed under the Legal Metrology Act for the first time. As we are all very much aware of the offenses and penalties under legal metrology, any offender who commits an offense under legal metrology is charged under the act and the Indian Penal Code. He will be liable to pay the penalty and legal action will be taken against him.
     
  2. Currently, the issue raised by the central government is that the penalty under Legal Metrology is the same for every business, whether the business is on a higher level or the lower level. Central Government to decriminalize the LMA provisions.
     
  3. It is suggested by the central government to charge the penalty on businesses according to their level. Not every business has to pay an equal amount of penalty for the offense committed under the Legal Metrology Act.
     
  4. A violation or offense committed under legal metrology may be committed by the manufacturer, importer, packer, or seller of the commodity. Even the offenses under Legal Metrology are committed by the e-commerce website, or seller on e-commerce website and the business organization that deals in the Indian market. Legal metrology laws for e-commerce should be considered by every E-Commerce website while dealing in the Indian Market.

To keep yourself away from the legal metrology dispute, it is necessary to work as per the guidelines provided by the Indian legal metrology system. Every manufacturer or importer or packer of the commodity needs to get the LMPC registration and the LMPC certificate to deal in the pre packaged commodities or weights and measures.

Central Government Graded Penalties Offenses under Legal Metrology

  1. The Central Government on May 9th, 2022, graded penalties for minor offenses under Legal Metrology committed for the first time.
     
  2. It has been suggested the quantum of penalty should not be the same for big players and small business owners, such as
    1. small vendors and
    2. big business websites,
    3. commercial websites, or
    4. other businesses.
  3. The Consumer Affairs Ministry urged the State Government to come on board to decriminalize minor and first-time offenses while suggesting that setting any target to issue challenges and collect fines should only be “incidental” and “not the motto” of enforcement agencies.
     
  4. The decriminalization of legal metrology and offenses under legal metrology have already been an issue for quite a long time as it has the contents not only of the criminal procedure but also contains the contents of these civil offenses committed by the offender under legal metrology.

Union Minister on decriminalization of offenses under Legal Metrology

  1. Union minister Piyush Goyal addressed a workshop on the decriminalization of offenses under legal metrology by some states.
     
  2. He urges the states to take a decision on the decriminalization of legal metrology to stop harassment of small shopkeepers and businessmen.
     
  3. It has been discussed at the point that sighting data for first and second offenses in the last four years has been released. Mr. Goyal said that he failed to understand how the number of second offenses fell drastically after the first offense was filed.
     
  4. In the financial years 2021–2022, the number of cases booked for the first offense totaled 74,721 out of which 55,779 cases were compounded.
     
  5. The number of cases booked for the second offense fell to 11, and the number of cases filed in the court of law for the second offense stood at only seven.
     
  6. Further, Mr. Goyal continues with the data for the last four years, which was enough to expose the objection to the proposal of decriminalization.
     
  7. He claimed many states and consumer organizations are against the Center’s move to decriminalization provisions, further saying that the law becomes a "tool of harassment" without decriminalization.
     
  8. The home minister urged these states to come and discuss the issue so that a draft could be put in the public domain for feedback from all these stakeholders and shareholders of the business or companies.
     
  9. Furthermore, he stated that some states are objecting to the proposal of decriminalization of the offenses under the act.
     
  10. As it is a primary responsibility of the government to protect the rights and interests of the consumer, the Legal Metrology Act and other laws should not be misused to harass these businessmen.
     
  11. Mr. Goyal has also suggested that the rules and regulations be simplified as well as decriminalized. The offenses under Legal Metrology by creating an honest system, and there should be strict action against habitual offenders. 
     
  12. There is a proper need to differentiate between bona fide and malafide intentions to strike a balance between the letters of the law and the spirit of the law.
     
  13. He pointed out that some states don't take a keen interest in the issues, and the ministers from several states did not come to the meeting, which shows that not all the states are very active and not showing their interest in the process of decriminalization of offenses under Legal Metrology.
     
  14. Mr. Rohit Singh, the Union Consumer Affairs Secretary, said the act contains 57 sections, out of which 23 have penal provisions, and in the case of the first offense committed by the offender, the various penalties by way of fines and six sections have provisions for imprisonment in the case of the first offense.
     
  15. This subsequent offense committed by the offenders attracts stiffer penalties than the first. Further, the secretary of consumer affairs also suggested that the state give thought to whether the penalty for the first offense should be the same for both the street vendor and a big company, or whether it should depend on their business level. A workshop on the need to decriminalize the offenses under the act.

States provide suggestions for decriminalization of offenses under legal metrology

  1. The decriminalization of offenses is a major issue and the most discussed topic in the department of legal metrology and the act. The majority of the offenses under Legal Metrology are compoundable and non-cognizable, so the major part covers the unnecessary action of criminalization under it, which has been suggested in various parts and various situations.
     
  2.  Decriminalizing the offenses under Legal Metrology so that it will be more helpful for the businessman to understand the business and to run his business perfectly as it will not be a burden on minor issues.
     
  3. It is also suggested in the current days that the offenses committed by this small business and the bigger businesses should be different from each other, as the small vendor cannot pay or he would not be able to pay the equal amount of penalty which can be easily payable by the bigger businesses and the companies.
     
  4. Not all the states are actively participating in the discussion and the conversation related to the decriminalization of the offenses under legal metrology, so it has been requested by the union minister, Mr. Piyush Goyal, to all the states by urging them to participate in the conversation and help out in making the best decision out of it so that it can protect the rights of the consumer as well as the businesses.
     
  5. All these states are required to take them to participate in the conversation and give their suggestions so that the proper decision can be taken with the mutual consent and suggestions of all these states.
     
  6. Heavy fines, penalties, or other punishment, as the case may be, should be imposed on the regular or habitual offender, but quite leniency should be given to the first-time offender, and it should be different from business to business. The penalty should be based on the status of the business and the offense, whether it is a first-time offense or the subsequent offense.
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