Recently, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs took another step in the direction of protecting consumers’ interests by notifying an amendment to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011. The stated amendment will come into force from January 1, 2018.
On June 29, 2017, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (hereinafter referred to as ‘The Ministry of Consumer Affairs), approved the amendments to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011. As reported by the Press Information Bureau’s website, after a detailed stakeholder consultation, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs sought to enhance the protection offered to the consumers while balancing the requirement of ease of doing business and subsequently introduced an amendment to the aforesaid Rules. A brief outline of the said amendments are provided below:
- Goods displayed by the seller on e-commerce platform shall contain declarations required under the Rules like name & address of the manufacturer, packer and importer, name of the commodity, net content, retail sale price, grievance redressal system, etc.
- Specific mention is made in the rules that no person shall declare different MRPs (dual MRP) on an identical pre-packaged commodity, unless allowed under any law. Understandably, this will have a huge impact on the consumers, retailers and manufacturers, considering that subsequent to these amendments coming into effect, no institution would be able to overcharge for any commodity, or sell products wherein a higher MRP is mentioned on it.
- Size of letters and numerals for making declaration is increased, so that consumer can easily read the same.
- The net quantity checking has adopted a more scientific approach, with introduction of e-coding.
- Bar Code/QR Coding is allowed on voluntarily basis.
- Provisions regarding declarations on Food Products have been harmonized with labelling regulations under the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006.
- Medical Devices such as stent, valve, orthopedic implants, syringe, and tools for operations, pharmaceutical drugs etc. shall now fall under the ambit of pre-packaged commodities as defined under the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011. Therefore, they shall have to adhere by the provisions of the said rules. Reportedly, consumers at large were facing difficulty as prices of devices were sold according to the paying capacity of the consumer. Even after capping of MRP many companies were not displaying the same on the product. Keeping the said aspect in mind, as well as the fact that all other declarations described in the Rules can only benefit the customer, these objects shall be required to print all such declarations as required under law.
- The definition of Institutional Consumer has been changed to prevent any scope for commercial transactions/retail sale of commodities sourced by the institution for their own use.