What is the Legal Metrology Act, 2009?
The Legal Metrology Act establishes and enforces standards of information to be shared on an e-commerce platform and the packaging of products. Such standards ensure that the buyer makes a fully informed decision while making the purchase, and is therefore applicable to all e-commerce entities in respect of any goods, class of goods or undertakings regarding weight, measure or number.
Following information must be clearly displayed on the product-page of an e-commerce entity:
- Details regarding the manufacturer, such as name and address of the manufacturer.
- Country of origin on the product page.
- Consumer care email ID and phone number should also be mentioned on the website.
- Terms of shipping and return/refund policy.
- An export package shall not be sold in India unless the manufacturer or packer has re-packed or relabeled the commodity.
- An E-commerce entity shall mention maximum retail price of the package inclusive of all taxes in Indian currency.
With respect to packaged commodities, every unit of weight or measure shall be in accordance with the metric system based on the international system of units. The basis of weights or measures are as follows:
- Length – metre
- Mass – kilogram
- Time – second
- Electric – ampere
- Thermodynamic temperature – kelvin
- Luminous intensity – candela
- Amount of substance – mole
As per the Legal Metrology Act, all individuals, firms, societies, companies, or corporations who (a) pre-pack or import any commodity for sale; (b) distribute or deliver any commodity are required to obtain registration. However, manufacturers of the following are exempt from such registration: (a) packages of commodities containing quantity of more than 25 (twenty five) kilogram or 25 (twenty five) litre; (b) cement, fertilizer and agricultural farm produce sold in bags above 50 (fifty) kilogram; and (c) packaged commodities meant for industrial consumers or institutional consumers.
Important declarations to be made on a package:
As per the Packaged Commodities Rules, every package should have the following declaration:
- Name and address of the manufacturer, or where the manufacturer is not the packer, the name and address of the manufacturer and packer. In case of imported package, name and address of importer, name of the country of origin or manufacture or assembly should be mentioned on the package.
- Common or generic names of the commodity contained in the package. Further, in case the package has more than one product, the name and number or quantity of each product should be mentioned on the package.
- Net quantity of the commodity contained in the package, in terms of the standard unit of weight or measure and the number of commodities contained in the package where the commodity is packed or sold by number.
- Month and year in which the commodity is manufactured or pre-packed or imported shall be mentioned in the package. However, with effect from 1st April 2022 only the month and year in which the commodity is manufactured is required to be mentioned. Package containing commodity which may become unfit for human consumption after a period of time, such package should mention the ‘best before or use by the date, month and year’. In case of packages containing food articles, cosmetics and seeds shall be governed by the provisions of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 and Seeds Act, 1966 respectively.
- The retail sale price of the package clearly indicating that it is the maximum retail price inclusive of all taxes, and the price in rupees and paise be rounded off to the nearest rupee or 50 (fifty) paise. However, with effect from 1st April 2022 the retail sale price of the package should clearly indicate that it is the maximum retail price inclusive of all taxes in Indian currency. In case of packages containing alcoholic beverages or spirituous liquor, the state excise laws, and the rules made thereunder shall be applicable within the state in which it is manufactured and where the state excise laws and rules made thereunder do not provide for declaration of retail sale price, the provisions of Packaged Commodities Rules shall apply. Further, if the retail sale price of any essential commodity is fixed and notified by the competent authority under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 the same shall apply.
- In case of commodities in which size is relevant, the package should mention the dimensions of the commodity contained in the package. If the dimensions of different pieces are different, the dimensions of each such pieces should be mentioned.
- Name, address, telephone number, e-mail address of the person who can be or the officer who can be contacted, in case of consumer complaints.
The aforementioned list is not exhaustive, and there are several other compliances which have not been mentioned here for the sake of brevity.
What are the offences and penalties provided by the act?
If an E-commerce entity does not follow the aforementioned points then a fine up to Rs. 50,000/- can be imposed on such entity.
Penalty for quoting or publishing, etc., of non-standard units shall be punishable with a fine of Rs. 10,000/-
Subsequent offences may result in an imprisonment which may extend to 1 year, along with fine.
Penalty for transactions in contravention of standard weight or measure:
- in selling any article or thing by weight, measure or number such that it results in delivery of less than the quantity or number contracted for or paid for; orin rendering any service by weight, measure or number, renders that service less than the service contracted for or paid for; orin buying any article or thing by weight, measure or number, fraudulently receives, or causes to be received any quantity or number of that article or thing in excess of the quantity or number contracted for or paid for; or
- in obtaining any service by weight, measure or number, obtains that service in excess of the service contracted for or paid for,
shall be punished with a fine up to Rs. 10,000/-. Any subsequent offences may result in an imprisonment which may extend to 1 year, along with fine.
The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
Key words: E- commerce, compliance
Reference: Legal Metrology Act, 2009; Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.