The Legal Metrology Act aims to protect the interests and rights of the consumer, and for that purpose, certain amendments have been proposed to decriminalization of legal metrology act provisions to the Legal Metrology Department and Consumer Affairs to make it more effective. Manufacturers or importers who deal in weights and measurements need to comply with the rules and regulations of the Legal Metrology Act. Manufacturers are required to get the LMPC Registration and obtain the LMA Certificate so that no fraud or legal metrology disputes will take place. If any dispute has arisen, the manufacturer, importer, packer, or seller of the commodity can take the advice of a legal metrology consultant. Legal metrology experts can help by providing the best solution to legal metrology disputes.
Legal Metrology Decriminalization Proposed Amendments
Certain amendments have been proposed to the Legal Metrology department. Those amendments are:
Increase of Fine on LMA Offences
- Where the offenses are committed by the wholesaler or the retailer, then a fine of Rs. 2000 will be imposed.
- In the case where the offender is a manufacturer or an importer. A fine of Rs. 5000 will be imposed on the offender.
- By the amendment of 2018, the declaration of dual MRP as a contravention to the law has been strengthened.
- It has been suggested by way of adding section 36 (1) A of the act to target the sale of commodities above MRP.
- By now, the selling above MRP is governed only Under section 32, (3) of the Legal Metrology Act Commodity Rules 2011, as amended in 2013.
- Section 32 (3) of the act, deems it a compoundable offense that is punishable with a fine of Rs. 2000.
- It has been proposed that as per section 36 (1) A, the first-time offender has to pay a penalty of rupees 5000 and for the subsequent offense, he shall be liable to pay a minimum amount of rupees 50,000 and 1 lac for further repetitions of the offense.
Penalties and Preventive Measures
- The main aim of the proposal is to decriminalize the LMA provision, especially where there is no chance for Mens Rea and no involvement of Mens Rea.
- The proposal aims to decriminalize the LMA provision of the act where the larger public need not be adversely affected.
- The proposal also aimed to review the penalties in the current litigation between sections 26 and 53 of the Act.
- Section 26 and 53 of the Act govern the manufacturing or sale of
- Non-standard weights
- Using unverified weight measures
- Quoting non-standard units
- Tampering with license
- Non-production of required documents
- Selling non-standard packages in declaration and quantity, etc.
- It is also suggested that a high penalty under LMA should be imposed on subsequent offense of Rs. 1 lakh to 10 lakh but with the caveat of cancelling the license.
- Any habitual offender who continuously repeats his offenses will be liable to pay a fine of between one lac and 10 lacs.
- The cancellation of the license of the offender can also take place.
- The suggested proposal looks more effective in the issue of penalties as a modern preventive measure, especially as imprisonment is suggested to be done away with.
- The proposal is also made in regards to the offenses such as
- Altering weight and measure,
- Giving false returns, and
- Maintaining false particulars, which should be decriminalized as they are compoundable offenses.
Person in Charge of the Conduct of Business
- Here the target is section 49 of the act, which requires a director to be nominated as a person in charge of the conduct of business.
- The proposal has been made to do the nominations at the marginal level instead.
- The aim behind this proposal is that it is managers, not directors, who are in charge of day-to-day business operations.
- Section 49 of the Legal Metrology Act 2009 has corrected the fallacy in the 1976 Act by providing the nominations of one director, or partner against whom criminal proceedings can be initiated.
- The proposal intends to take a further step and absolve the liability of the director by putting the manager in the line of fire.
Aim of the proposal of Decriminalizing the LMA Provision
The proposal made under Legal Metrology aims to cover the various aspects, such as:
- Decriminalization of Legal Metrology,
- The nomination of managers,
- Cancellation of the license, and
- Introduction of section 36 subsection 1 A.
Cancellation of LMA license
- Cancellation of LMPC license is necessary for offenders who are habitual offenders and consequently repeat their offenses regularly.
- The cancellation of a license is a penalty for many provisions. It may not be the correct approach, but it should be considered for the regular offenders.
- Decriminalizing the LMA provisions of legal metrology will also reduce the burden of the court and cause a downfall in the litigation.
- However, there are certain disadvantages to this proposal as well, such as:
- The fact that cancellation of a license would have a direct impact on the type of business stakeholder and they end up paying for the wrong done by the other person.
- Another disadvantage of the proposal could be the increase in litigation by the offenders whose LMA licenses getting cancelled.
- It can be proved wrong in the case of a business having a multiple-location presence where the default is conducted by one person, but the license will be cancelled for all the units.
- There can be both merit and demerit to the proposal, but it can be considered carefully and picked up the solutions which are in favour of the act to protect the interests of the consumer and stop legal metrology fraud or misconduct by the trader, manufacturer, or importer of the weight and measures.
Introduction to section 36 (1) A
- Decriminalization is required in some aspects as it cannot be fit in all the areas for improvement
- The sale of any commodity has to be mentioned.
- Wrong or false MRP is a gross infringement of consumer rights and damages the transparency as well as the clean operation of the business.
- This malpractice is a crime and harms the rights of every consumer, which is highly communicable across sectors and business structures.
- The government must look into the matter and introduce necessary punishment to prohibit such practices and fraud under legal metrology for which the proposal of section 36 (1)A has been made to consider the punishment and decriminalize certain aspects of the act.