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Proposal of Decriminalization of Legal Metrology Act

Introduction

In recent days, the Decriminalization of Legal Metrology has been at the top of the news. The topic became so hot that every person who was not even aware of the legal metrology act got to know about the concept and motive of the legal metrology act. The reason behind the proposal given with regards to the Decriminalization of the said act is:

  • We are all very well aware that criminal offences often require the standard of proof to be beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • However, a much higher threshold death standard adopted for civil wrongs may raise the question of the efficiency of criminal law in dealing with misconduct under Legal Metrology.

The fact that many offences which are technical in nature could be shifted to civil liability from criminal liability was the main reason for the proposal given for the Decriminalization of the legal metrology act.

In this article, we are going to discuss a few major points of the proposal that has been made for decriminalising the Legal Metrology Act. By the way, under this article, we will try to make the concept of Decriminalization of legal metrology much clearer and crystal so that every business, e-commerce website under legal metrology, small or large vendor, manufacturer, packer, importer, and dealer of the commodity will get to know every single detail about the Decriminalization of the legal metrology act.

Why is there a need to decriminalise the Legal Metrology Act?

  1. There is a specific need to review the civil and criminal penalties under the legal metrology Act 2009. Considering their suitability for the imposition of criminal liability, this exercise requires review and categorization of both non-compoundable and compoundable offences under the act. Proposed amendments Decriminalization of legal metrology provisions has been made for the interest of the consumer as well as businesses.
  2. The main motive for the Decriminalization of the legal metrology act is to provide a smooth track for small and big businesses to deal in the Indian market and to do business with honesty by complying with all the rules and regulations of the act.
  3. Due to the criminalization of the act, many small and big vendors have to face serious issues even for minor mistakes that do not cause any harm to society or to the consumer. But as we say, it is criminalization under the act, so the businessman has been thrown into major trouble because of minor issues, which are easily compoundable outside the court.
  4. The workshop was attended by representatives of around 20 states and union territories. It was organised by the department of consumer affairs, under which the legal metrology act works. To promote ease of doing business in India to ensure that laws that were brought to protect consumers should not be misused to harass businessmen is the aim of the Decriminalization of the Legal Metrology Act.
  5. The suitability of the existence of penal and education mechanisms as well as the feasibility of alternate mechanisms would need to be explored from the perspective of ensuring speedy and effective enforcement and at the same time ensuring that the legal metrology act remains effective.

Appeal Under Legal Metrology

  1. Whenever the person who has been served with a notice does not agree with the charges made by the inspector, he may appeal under section 50 of the legal metrology act against the order or decision of the legal metrology officer. An appeal shall be made to the controller of legal metrology.
  2. If the person is not satisfied with the order of the controller, he may appeal to the state government. However, there is a need to review the civil and criminal penalties under the act.

Compounding of Legal Metrology offences

  1. Whenever any violation is observed by an inspector of legal metrology during an inspection or on a complaint, as the case may be, he issues notice to a person concerned with the violation, and if the person to whom the notice is issued agrees with the notice, he may compound the office by paying the compounding fee, and the case will be closed.
  2. The legal metrology act is the primary instrument that establishes and enforces the standards of weights and measures and regulates the weights and measures in the country.
  3. Chapter five of the act sets out the various offences and penalties under the legal metrology act and the offences under the act, which are criminal offences, and prescribes imprisonment as a punishment for violation of the act.

State Government to impose fine under Legal Metrology

  1. The proposed fine is a maximum prescribed and the state government may fix the fine considering the nature and gravity of the offence. At present, the legal metrology act provides that on the commencement of an offence, a fine shall be imposed by the legal metrology officer of the state government.
  2. The offences which can be decriminalised should not have the following characteristic:
    1. Mens Rea which is the malafide intention or criminal intent. Therefore it is critical to evaluate the nature of non-compliance as a fraud as compared to negligence or inadvertent omission, where the larger public interest is affected adversely.

Suggestions Received by the Legal Metrology Department

  1. The legal metrology department has received various suggestions from numerous sources and has enumerated the proposed changes in the act which are important for exercising the degradation and also have a large-scale impact across society.
  2. This stakeholder consultation exercise is being conducted in order to develop consensus. The department of consumer affairs, which administers the legal metrology act 2009, invites the comments of the following:
    1. state government,
    2. union territory administrations,
    3. civil society,
    4. non-government organisations,
    5. private sector organisations,
    6. public sector organisations,
    7. Academicians,
    8. multilateral institutions, and
    9. members of the public to submit their comments and views on the proposed amendments to the legal metrology department.
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