Legal Metrology Act 2009 contains a set of rules and protocols to maintain uniformity in all the instruments used for weighing and measuring. This is to regulate and control the pre-packaged commodities by ensuring the net quantity contained therein.
Buying and selling digital products, goods or services over a digital platform or electronic network comes within the ambit of E-commerce.
An E-commerce website falls under the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011, which means the E-commerce website should comply with the said rules. These rules are applicable to the e-commerce marketplaces or e-commerce companies which only provide an online medium to facilitate the transactions between consumers and sellers.
Legal Metrology Package Labeling Laws
All pre-packed goods should have labels that would contain the following declarations:
- Name and address of manufacturer/packer/importer
- Common or generic name of commodity/commodities in the package
- Net quantity in the standard unit of the commodity in the package
- The retail sale price of the commodity/commodities
- Dimension of the commodity, if the size of the commodity is relevant
These declarations would be visible only if the packaging were in the customer’s hand, which is not possible in the case of e-commerce. This is why the legal metrology package labeling laws have been amended by the Government, and the e-commerce entity which falls under these laws must comply with the rules made for them, and they will be liable for checks and investigations are done by the appropriate authority to ensure that the rules are being complied with.
The Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules, 2017
In 2017, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, food and public distribution have, made this amendment to bring the e-commerce website under the ambit of Legal Metrology Package labeling laws, i.e., Legal Metrology Act and the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules.
A new sub-rule 4(10) under Rule 6 of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules has been added, which mandates all e-commerce entities to provide all the declarations about the commodity on their online portal. The commodity that will be unfit after a specific time period must display ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ on the package.
According to Rule 6 sub-rule 4A, the manufacturer, packer, or importer should have the following declarations, apart from mandatory declarations:
- Barcode/GTIN/QR Code
- E-code for net quantity assurance
- Logos of the government scheme, where such use is authorised by the Government
The amendment has made further changes such as:
- Dual MRP
- Double the display size of quantity, MRP of small packets
- The size of MRP would be increased by 1.5 times on the bigger packets.
- The width of numbers and letters would not be less than 1/3 of the height of the packet, excluding number 1 or letter (i), (I), (l).
Through the amendment of Legal Metrology Package labeling laws, the correctness of declaration has been shifted to the manufacturer/packer/importer even in the case of e-commerce on fulfilment of the following conditions:
- The digital entity’s role is limited to providing access to a communication system over which all the information provided by the manufacturer/packer/importer is temporarily stored.
- The digital entity does not engage in initiating the transmission, selecting the receiver of transmission or modifying the information of transmission.
- The digital entity has to adhere to the guidelines issued by Central Government related to Information Technology.
Some of the other important mandates from the said amendment of Legal Metrology Package labeling laws are:
- No one should declare different MRS on similar pre-packaged commodity
- Name of the country of origin/manufacture or assemble, in case of imported commodity
- Name of the company along with qualifying words ‘manufactured by’/’packed by.’
- The provisions of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act should be on the label of cosmetic products
- MRP should be there, clearly indicating all taxes
Non-compliance with any of the mandates of Legal Metrology Package labeling laws by digital entities will attract penalties. However, there are certain commodities that are exempted from complying with such mandates:
- If the packaged commodity is 25kg or 25 litres.
- Packaged commodities for the institutional or industrial customer
- Fertilizers, cement or agricultural farm product of more than 50 kg.
Non-compliancewith Legal Metrology Package labeling laws by E-commerce
On 24 January 2021, a letter was issued by the National Secretary-General, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), to the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister alleging the non-compliance of Legal Metrology Package labeling laws by e-commerce in India, and no action has been taken against such entities by the appropriate department. The focus of the letter was the amended Legal Metrology Package labeling laws and the transparency between customers and manufacturers.
The Government has taken a protective step by covering e-commerce within the ambit of Legal Metrology Package labeling laws. E-commerce acts as an intermediary between the customers and the manufacturers of packaged commodities. An amendment has been passed by the Government to Legal Metrology Package labeling laws for enhancing the benefits of the customers of digital entities. There are certain declarations that are mandatory to be followed by the entities related to packaged commodities. However, the digital entities are not following the mandates, and thus the CAIT has issued a letter to the Hon’ble Minister of the concerned department.
Read our Article:Rule 27 of Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011