Measurements are an essential part of our life, for instance, time to be punctual for appointments, satellite positioning systems to pinpoint a location, while consuming electricity, gas, and water which are billed based on measurements, etc. Therefore, legislation on measurements and measuring instruments are requisite in such situations, also helps to guard the interests of both the buyer and the seller specifically in a commercial transaction or in case of sanction.
Metrology refers to the study of units of measurements and covers the entire structure of weights and measures. Legal Metrology orders the mandatory technical and legal requirements relating to the standard of weights and measures for products that are sold or distributed all over India. Initially in India law relating to the same was covered under the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976, however, it was replaced by the Legal Metrology Act, 2009. Its main objective is to establish and enforce standards of weights and measures, regulate trade and commerce in weights, measures, and other goods that are sold or distributed by weight, measure, or number. The Central Government framed the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 concerning the standard quantities or number and manner in which declaration was given on pre-packaged commodities.
What is Pre-Packaged Commodity?
The term Pre-Packaged Commodity is defined under Section 2(l) of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009. It refers to a commodity that has been placed in a package of whatever nature (sealed or not), without the purchaser being present so that the product contained therein has a predetermined quantity.
Declarations to be made on Pre-Packaged Commodities
Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 aims to ensure that declaration given under Section 18 of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 is mentioned on the pre-packaged goods. Whereas, rule 6 of stipulates the declaration are to be made on every package and are as follows:
1. Retail Sale Price of the commodity: The retail sale price is mandatory on the goods and should be inclusive of all taxes.
2. Size of the product: It is essential where the sizes of the goods are relevant, and in case of multiple goods the dimensions of each piece shall be given.
3. Weight of the product: The net quantity of the product should be mentioned in the said unit of weight or measure and where it is mentioned in numbers, the number of goods in the package should be given clearly. As per, Rule 11 the weight of packaging or materials other than the product should be excluded from the total weight. In case there is any difference in the weight/quantity received by the customer due to any environmental or other factors then the quantity should not be less than the net weight written on the package.
4. The common/generic name of the goods: Where there are multiple goods, a manufacturer or packer or importer must mention common or generic name of the goods or used in trade circles. Similarly, in case of wholesale packages as given under Chapter III, Rule 24.
5. Details of the manufacturer: The name and complete address (along with postal code) of the manufacturer or packer or importer is ought to be provided on the package. In case, more than one is given the details of the deemed manufacturer shall be considered for taking any action.
6. Customer Care Number: The package should have contact details like address, telephone number, and email address for consumer complaints.
7. Date of manufacturing/ pre-packed/ imported: The date of manufacturer packaging or import is mandatory on all packages. Also, packages bottled and marketed by public sector undertakings like bidi or incense sticks or domestic gas cylinders are exempted from the said declaration regarding month and year.
8. Additional declarations required in the view of the commodity: As per rules, any other relevant declarations must be given on the package.
The Madras High Court in Philips India Ltd. v. Union of India [(2002) 1 Mad.L.W (Cri.) 211] while discussing as to whether televisions, video and audio players or speakers would qualify as ‘Packaged Commodity’ pointed out that the definition of a pre-packed commodity would have no application to packages which are packed only for the convenience of customers for safe transportation and protection during storage and handling. Apex Court also in a recent judgment [Civil Appeal No. 1119 of 2010] observed that a package used merely for protection during conveyance or safety would not be a pre-packed commodity. The court held that for the package to be treated as a wholesale package, it must not be a secondary package i.e. for safety, convenience, or the like. In our view, packaging for the purpose of protection or safety of a product would not be a pre-packed commodity, however, the primary packaging of a product is a part of the pre-packed commodity.
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