Legal Metrology Act needs to be decriminalised, states should give consent, says Union Minister Piyush Goyal

Highlighting the need for the decriminalisation of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009, Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal said Monday that there is a need to ensure effective implementation of laws to protect consumer interests without the harassment of businesses.

While addressing the ‘National Workshop on Legal Metrology Act, 2009’, Goyal suggested a pragmatic approach to decriminalise laws and urged states to support the initiative to balance the interest of consumers with the need to simplify laws so that businesses, particularly the small enterprises, are not put to undue hardship.

“It’s our collective responsibility to ensure that the consumers do not face injustice while at the same time understanding the responsibility towards businessmen so that they can work peacefully,” said the minister during the workshop in which officials from Union ministries and states participated.

Goyal asked the officials to discuss the issue with different stakeholders in the coming days and come up with suggestions by the World Legal Metrology Day, which is observed on May 20 every year. He said that the new provisions of the Act should be transparent, it should promote an honest system, and it should also protect the interest of consumers.

Highlighting data of cases registered under the legal metrology law, Goyal said that 97 per cent of cases of first offences were booked by the state government on limited sections while no second offence was booked under the same sections.

The data exposes the state governments that are opposing decriminalisation, he said.

“Why are there so many first offences and second offences are nil? How many cases are there as the second offence in respective states? What has the state government done when there is no second offence?” asked Goyal.

As per the data shared by the Department of Consumer Affairs, the number of cases booked by states and Union Territories as a first offence under the Legal Metrology Act during 2018-19 was 1,13,745 while those compounded were 97,690. In the same period, the number of second offences in which case was booked was 12 of which only 4 cases were filed in the court, the data shows.

Goyal also said there has been considerable progress towards ‘One Nation, One Standard’ and asked officials to ensure that quality goods are being manufactured in the country. “Whether a good is being sold in the country or is exported, the quality should be the same and excellent. There has been considerable progress towards ‘One Nation, One Standard’. We have to move that even faster,” said Goyal.

On this occasion, the minister also released two e-Books along with other dignitaries. One e-Book is a compendium of all the provisions of Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities), Rules 2011 with all the amendments. The other e-Book contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities), Rules 2011.

Rohit Kumar, the secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, said that the focus should be on decreasing the burden on businesses and inspiring confidence amongst the investors. It is critical to evaluate the nature of non-compliance i.e. fraud as compared to negligence or inadvertent omission and at the same time, habitual offenders must be taken to task for recurring non-compliance, he said.

Nidhi Khare, additional secretary with the Department of Consumer Affairs, and other senior officials were present on the occasion.

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