Government notifies the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules, 2017 w.e.f. 1st January, 2018
To address various complaints filed by consumers relating to inadequacy in quality, quantity and lack of information furnished by the companies on the packages / e-commerce platforms, amendments have recently been brought about in the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.
By way to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules, 2017 (“2017 Amendment Rules”), slated to come into effect fromJanuary 1, 2018, substantive changes have been brought about to protect consumer interests:
- The terms ‘consumer’, ‘e-commerce’, ‘e-commerce entity’, ‘marketplace based model of e-commerce’ have been defined for the first time.
- Definition of the term ‘institutional consumer’ has been substituted to mean an institution which buys packaged commodities bearing a declaration ‘not for retail sale’, directly from the manufacturer/ importer / wholesale dealer for its own use and not for commercial or trade purposes. This is with a view to prevent any scope for commercial transactions / retail sale of commodities sourced by institutions for their own use.
- The requirement to print the maximum sale price in the specific manner prescribed has been done away with, hence affording greater flexibility in printing the MRP.
- Now the name of the country of origin or manufacture or assembly in case of imported products has to be mentioned on the package.
- Packages containing commodities that may become unfit for human consumption after a period of time, have to mandatorily mention the ‘best before or use by the date, month and year’ on the label.
[The meaning of ‘best before’ and ‘use by date’ has been explained below:
“best befor” means the date which signifies the end of the period under any stated storage conditions during which the product shall remain fully marketable and shall retain any specific qualities for which tacit or express claims have been made and beyond the date commodity may still be safe for consumption;
“use by Date” means the date which signifies the end of the estimated period under any stated storage conditions after which the product shall not have the quality attributes normally expected by the consumers and after this date, the commodity should not be regarded as marketable.’
- Manufacturer/packer/importer is allowed to declare the following declarations on voluntary basis:
(a) Barcode or GTIN or QR Code;
(b) ‘e-code’ for net quantity assurance of the commodity and other required declarations, after obtaining the same in the manner as specified by the Central Government;
(c) logos of Government schemes, such as Swatch Bharat Mission, where such use is authorised by the Central Government
- E-Commerce entities to ensure that mandatory declarations such as name and address of the manufacturer / packer / importer, common or generic name of the commodity contained in the package, net quantity, the number of commodity, retail sales price of the package (as maximum retail price etc. is displayed on the digital and electronic network used for e-commerce transactions. The only exception is that the month and year in which the commodity is manufactured or packed need not be mentioned. The result of this amendment is going to be an additional burden on the manufacturer, retailer, dealer or importer to ensure that all such declarations are printed on the packaging of the commodity being sold on the e-commerce website. However, this will certainly increase transparency in the way e-commerce websites operate and the consumers will end up benefitting from it.
- To bring about more prominence in the declarations, the size of letters and numerals in the principal display panel of the package has been increased for easy readability.
- The 2017 Amendment Rules have made some modifications with respect to the width of the letter or numeral.
- No declarations on the inner package is required, if the outer package contains all declarations under these rules.
- The capacity of packages where compliance would be considered as sufficient if a mark or inscription is given on the package which will enable the consumer to identify the manufacturer or packer or the importer has been raised to 10 cubic cm or less from 5 cubic cm or less.
- Definition of the term ‘complete address’ has been modified to cover the name of the street, city and state where the business of the Importer is carried.
- No manufacturer or packer or importer would be allowed to declare different maximum retail prices for the identical pre-packaged commodity by adopting restrictive trade practices or unfair trade practices as defined under clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68 of 1986).
- Medical Devices must comply with these rules including mandatory declarations like MRP, dates, quantity etc.
- Residual penalty raised to Rs. 5,000 from Rs. 2,000/-.
- Second Schedule [Commodities to be packed in specified quantities] has been amended
- Fifth Schedule [Manner of Selection of Sample Packages] has been amended
- Sixth Schedule [Determination of the Net Quantity of Commodities in Packages] has been amended