The Legal Metrology Act and Legal Metrology Packaged Commodity Rules are a grey area for business entities and most of them are not complying with the rules and provisions made. This article is focused to let business entities understand the applicability and importance of the LM Act and the LMPC, Rules.
Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules was introduced and published in The Gazette of India in the year 2011 bearing the gazette number GSR 200(E). These rules came into force on the 1st of July 2012 and since then they have been amended and modified multiple times. One of the major amendments made to LMPC Rules in the year 2017 by the official gazette GSR 629(E) dated 23rd July 2017. The Legal Metrology Act and Packaged Commodity Rules were made applicable for e-commerce industries as well from 1st January 2018.
The Act and The Rules apply to every pre-packed commodity available in the market, sold by weight, length, volume, or quantity, and are majorly applicable to FMCG Industry. Applicability of The Legal Metrology Act, 2009 and LM (Packaged Commodity) Rules, 2011 is very vast and can be understood with the following provisions of the act.
Concerning Legal Metrology Packaged Commodity Rule 27 define as, “Every Firm, or Company or organization or any other business structure who or which pre-packs or import any commodity for sale, distribution, delivery shall make an application along with the prescribed fee for the registration of its name and complete address, and such application shall be made:-
- Before the commencement of these rules, within a period of 90 days from the commencement of the rules
- After commencement of these rules, within a period of 90 days from commencement of business.”
Concerning Section 18(1) of The Legal Metrology Act, 2009 “No person shall manufacture, pack, sell, import, distribute, deliver, offer, expose or possess for sale any pre-packaged commodity unless such package is in such standard quantities or number and bears thereon such declarations and particulars in such manner as may be prescribed”.
Concerning Section 36(1) of The Legal Metrology Act, 2009 “Whoever manufactures, packs, imports, sells, distributes, delivers or otherwise transfers, offers, exposes or possesses for sale, or causes to be sold, distributed, delivered or otherwise transferred, offered, exposed for sale any pre-packaged commodity which does not conform to the declarations on the package as provided in this Act, shall be punished with fine which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees, for the second offence, with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees and for the subsequent offence, with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to one lakh rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with both”.
Concerning Section 36(2) of The Legal Metrology Act, 2009 “Whoever manufactures or packs or imports or causes to be manufactured or packed or imported, any pre-packaged commodity, with error in net quantity as may be prescribed shall be punished with fine which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to fifty thousand rupees and for the second and subsequent offence, with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with both”.
Interpreting the rule and sections it becomes mandatory to comply with the provisions of the LM Act and LMPC Rules for all manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, sellers, supermarkets, retail shops, e-commerce websites, etc.
Industries covered and comply with LM (Packaged Commodity) Rules:
Before understanding the industries covered under Legal Metrology Packaged Commodity, Rules it is important to understand the meaning of pre-packed commodities. Pre-packed commodity means a commodity that is introduced to the market in packed form with determining quantity whether the purchaser is not present physically whether sealed or not. This defines that even a small grocery store vendor or snack vendor selling any products which he packs himself in advance to sell, has to comply with the provisions of LMPC rules non-compliance may attract penalties.
For illustration, if a Food Business Operator (FBO) is selling its products in packing size of 200 gm or a Cosmetic company selling any body lotion in 400 ml packaging, or Any Garment Manufacturer selling shirts as per size standards (S, M, L, XL, etc.) or any Suiting Shirting company selling a cut piece of fabrics in packaged form, Furniture industry selling dining table as per no of chairs, etc. are required to obtain the license from legal metrology and to comply with legal metrology packaged commodity rules.
Every pre-packed product is to comply with these rules and provisions made there and to display all necessary details on the package as defined by the rules etc. The Packaged Commodity Rules majorly apply to the FAST-MOVING CONSUMER GOODS (FMCG) Industry which is one of the highest-growing industries in current times.
In simple terms, the Packaged Commodity Rules apply to every good available in packed forms sold by denoting its weights, volume, length, size and quantity. Industries such as Food Industry, Readymade Garment Industry, Thread & Fabric Industry, Drugs, and Cosmetic Industry, Iron Industry, Home Decor Industry, Furniture Industry, E-commerce Industry, Footwear Industry, and many others.
Interplay with other laws:
The legal metrology packaged commodity (LMPC) rules interplay with other acts as well to protect the rights of consumers and display norms such as (FSSAI) Food Safety Laws, Drugs and Cosmetic laws, Consumer Protection Act, etc. Thus with certain laws, few details are mandatory to display as per the provisions of the respective act i.e. The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and other details are to be displayed as per the provisions of The LM Act and The LMPC Rules.
Powers available to Officials:
Legal metrology officers have been empowered by the LM Act to inspect and search any premises at a reasonable time any weight, measure, or other goods concerning which trade and commerce have taken place, or is intended to take place and any record, register, or other documents relating thereto. They are also empowered to inspect every document related to weight and measures.
Also empowered to seize any weight, measure, or other goods and any record, register or other document or article which he has reason to believe may furnish evidence indicating that an offence punishable under this Act has been, or is likely to be, committed in the course of, or relation to, any trade and commerce. Legal Metrology Officials are also empowered to dispose of any such goods which are of speedy or natural decay.
LM Officials are also empowered to forfeit any pre-packed commodity which is not as per the standards and violates the provisions described under section 18.
Consequences of violation and not obtaining registration:
There are certain consequences and penal provisions for not obtaining the license and complying with legal metrology packaged commodity licenses. Violations under the packaged commodity act can attract notices from departments throughout the country which empowers the officials or other states to send notices to any violators. The penalties are as follows:
|S.no||Grounds of penalty||Fine on the First offence||On the Second and Subsequent Offences|
|1.||Where no specific punishment is provided||Rs. 5,000/-||N.A|
|2.||Violation of standard weight or measure||Rs. 10,000/-||Imprisonment up to 1 year, or fine or both.|
|3.||Non-production of documents||Up to Rs. 5,000/-||Imprisonment up to 1 year, and fine both|
|4.||Sale of commodities by non-standard weight or measure||Not less Rs. 2000/- extend Up to Rs. 5,000/-||Imprisonment for a period not less than 3 months which may extend to 1 year or with a fine or both|
|5.||Selling in non-standard packages||Up to Rs. 25,000/-||Fine up to Rs. 50,000/- on the second offence and for subsequent offences Fine of Rs. 50,000/- can be extended up to Rs. 1,00,000/- or with Imprisonment for a term up to 1 year or both|
|6.||Error in net quantity as prescribed||Not less than Rs. 10,000/-||Fine up to Rs. 1,00,000/- or with imprisonment for a term up to 1 year or both|
Additionally, various penalties could also be imposed under other laws such as Food Safety Act, Drugs and Cosmetic Act, and Consumer Protection Act. And provisions are there for compounding penalties.
Recently the consumer affairs department has issued 448 notices and recovered the compounding fees of around 78 lakhs from the e-commerce operators including Amazon and Flipkart for violating the provisions under the act and rules. Due to the strict monitoring of e-commerce platforms and imposition of fines and penalties it is expected by these E-commerce platforms to make it mandatory for sellers registered with them to comply with the rules and provisions of Legal Metrology.
The Legal Metrology Act and Legal Metrology Packaged Commodity (LMPC) Rules have extensive provisions and effects on most businesses in India. Due to consumer complaints and misrepresentations by e-commerce websites, manufacturers, sellers, re-packers, brand owners, etc. the area of applicability of the LMPC has increased. All the Manufacturers, Re-packers, Importers, and Brand Owners have to comply with the norms of Packaged Commodity Rules, violations will lead to penalties and complications.
About the author:
The author is a lawyer based in Jaipur and associated with the company. The Author has consulted many business organizations to comply with the norms of Legal Metrology Packaged Commodity rules throughout India a few renowned brands are Ellementry, Syston Tea, Terra Casia, Wazud, Indibni, Titliaan Trends, Bannadi, Faith & Patience, etc. and possesses knowledge of various other laws such as Trademark Law, Copyright Law, Companies Law, Limited Liability Partnership, Partnership Law, Contract Law, Shop & Establishment, NI Act, Food Safety Laws etc. The information contained in this write-up, as provided by the author, is to provide general guidance to the reader. The information should not be used as a substitute for specific consultations. The author recommends that professional advice is sought before taking any action on specific issues.
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