Legal Metrology

Legal Meterology

The Supreme Court in its judgment dated September 4, 2020, in the matter of State of U.P v. Aman Mittal[1], ruled that Section 3 of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 overrides Chapter XII of the IPC, 1860 wherein the provisions relating to weights & measures has been laid down. Section 3 of the said Act provides that the provisions laid down under the Act shall override the provisions laid down under any other existing law. The said Act deals with the trade & commerce of goods, weights & measures distributed/sold by number, weight & measures.

In the case of Lawrence & Mayo (Opt.) LMI Trust & Anr. v. S.A. Chaudhari & Anr.[2], theapplicant was dealing in retail business of spectacles, spectacles frames, goggles, etc. and asked the Bombay High Court to keep the spectral frames, Goggles, spectacles & sun-glasses outside the purview of Standards of Weights & Measures Act, 1976 as well as Packaged commodities Rules, 1977. The Court was of the opinion that frames & sun-glasses, be it with lens or just a frame is outside the purview of pre-packaged commodity as laid down under the Rule 2(l) of the Rules, 1977.         

In a similar judgment, Subhash Arjandas Kataria v. State of Maharashtra[3] before the division bench of Bombay High Court wherein the bench relied on the judgment of Lawrence & Mayo (Opt.) case. The bench ruled that sun-glasses are outside the purview of Rule 2(l) of the Packaged Commodity Rules, 1977 and hence are not pre-packaged commodity.        

Further, inthe case of M/s Philips Electronics India Ltd. Rep. by Ms.Roop Loomba & Others v. The Govt. of A.P. Rep. by its Principal Secretary, Legal Metrology Dept. & Others.[4],the primary issue raised before the Madras High Court was that whether the audio-visual equipment, television sets & electronic items come under the purview of Standards Weights & Measures Act, 1976 and the Rules, 1977?

The Court answered the principle issue in affirmation stating that the audio-visual equipment, television sets & electronic items are outside the purview of the said Act as well as the Rules, 1977. The Court while dealing with the scientific terms related to the field of electronics as well as the arguments of the petitioner, finally ruled in favor of the petitioner and opined that the said Act & the Rules shall not be applicable to the packages placed for the customer’s convenience. This means that the audio-visual equipment, television sets & electronic items are outside the purview of the Packaged Commodities Rules either of 1977 or 2011.         

Furthermore, in the case of Bata India Ltd. & Ors. v. State through the Inspector, Legal Metrology[5], the main contention put forth by the petitioner in this petition was that footwear does not come under the purview of packaged commodity. The respondent has alleged that article of footwear manufactured & sold by the petitioner does not contain a declaration regarding maximum retail price as laid down under Rule 6 (1)(b) of Standard of Weights & Measures Act and Package Commodities Rule, 1977.The Court ruled in favor of the petitioner and dismissed the petition.

The Kerala High Court in Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd v. Director of Standards of Weights and Measures[6], addressed an issue which was “whether describing engine of the Mahindra vehicle as having 109 BHP (brake horsepower) in a commercial in India Today Magazine, would constitute an offence under S.11 of the Standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act, 1985?”

The Court while quashing the notice issued by the Legal Metrology inspector, opined that when 109 BHP is converted into metric system, it would come to 80169.36375 watts & neither any prospective buyer nor any customer would be able to understand an engine’s real power.  

In one of the interesting cases, Cadbury India Ltd v. Controller of Legal Metrology[7], conduct of the Legal Metrology Department was taken up by the Karnataka High Court. The Legal Metrology Department, in this case, issued a notice to Cadbury India as it was using “angula” word in their television commercial of “5 star” chocolate. The word angula refers to an inch, which is a non-metric system of length & utilizing such word is in the violation of Section 11(1)(c) of the Legal Metrology Act. The Court decided in favour of Cadbury India stating that the commercial had a humorous tone hence there was no violation by Cadbury India.

[1] Cri. Appeal No. 1328-1329 of 2019

[2] Cri. Application No. 2198 of 2010

[3] 2006(5) vide Mh.LJ.361

[4] Writ Petition No.33904 of 2012

[5] Cri. Misc. No. 2031 of 2007

[6] W.P. (C) No. 2997 of 2004

[7] W.P. No. 39175/2012

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