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Product Packing: Mandatory Disclosures under Legal Metrology Law

Product Packing: Mandatory Disclosures under Legal Metrology Law


Product Packing: Mandatory Disclosures under Legal Metrology Law

 

‘Legal Metrology’ is the branch of law that deals with units of measures and weights. In India, the legislation regulating this branch is called the Legal Metrology Act of 2009 enacted by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

It was enacted to replace the Standard of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 and the Standard of Weights and Measures (Enforcement), 1985.

As per Section 2(g) of the Act “Legal Metrology” means that part of metrology which treats units of weighment and measurement, methods of weighment and measurement and weighing and measuring instruments, in relation to the mandatory technical and legal requirements which have the object of ensuring public guarantee from the point of view of security and accuracy of the weighments and measurements.

The Act intends to set standards of weights and measures in trade and commerce and to guarantee the public the security and legality of the goods or services of a proprietor.

The Legal Metrology (Packaging Commodities) Rules, 2011 applies to packaged products and specifies how declarations must be made and what declarations must be included in a packaged commodity intended for sale.

  • OBJECTIVES OF THE ACT
  • To regulate trade and commerce in weights and measures.
  • To set and enforce the standards of weight and measure.
  • To regulate the manufacture, sale and use of goods by weights, measures or numbers.
  • To rationalize the Metric system (meter, kilogram etc.) to be used in India.
  • WHO ARE GOVERNED UNDER THE ACT?

The Legal Metrology Act, 2009 governs:

  • Persons who are using any weight or measure in any transaction or Industrial Production.
  • Manufacturer, Dealer, and Repairer of any weight or measure, Importer and/or Packer of any item related to weight, measure and numbers.

The definition clause of the Act defines each of these terms as:

  • Manufacturer: A person who manufactures weight or measure, any commodity in packaged form, one or more parts, and acquires other parts, of such weight or measure and, after assembling those parts, claims the end product to be a weight or measure manufactured by himself.
  • Dealer: A person who carries on, directly or otherwise, the business of buying, selling, supplying or distributing any weight or measure for a valuable consideration.
  • Packer: A person / Firm, that pre-packs any commodity in any bottle, tin, wrapper or otherwise, in units suitable for sale whether wholesale or retail.
  • Importer: Any individual, firm or legal entity that brings goods, or causes goods to be brought from a foreign country into a customs territory.
  • Repairer: A person who repairs a weight or measure and includes a person who adjusts, cleans, lubricates or paints any weight or measure or renders any other service to such weight or measure to ensure such weight or measure conforms to the standards established by or under Legal Metrology Act, 2009 

PRE-PACKED COMMODITIES & DECLARATIONS

a. What are pre-packed commodities?

Before understanding the declarations to be mentioned in the package, we have to understand what qualifies as a pre-packaged commodity. A pre-packaged commodity is defined U/S/2(l) of the Legal Metrology Act as, a commodity that without the purchaser being present is placed in a package of whatever nature, whether sealed or not so that the product contained therein has a pre-determined quantity. In Philips India ltd. vs. Union of India, Madras High court held that televisions, audio & video players will not fall under the category of pre-packed commodities since they are only packed for safe conveyance. However, in Whirlpool of India Ltd. vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India, ‘refrigerators’ come within the definition of pre-packed commodities and the provisions of Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976.

These inconsistencies and irregularities with the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 led to the enactment of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 and subsequently the Legal Metrology( Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.

 

b . Declarations to be displayed on a pre-packaged commodity

The Legal Metrology Act, 2009 along with the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 imposes an obligation to mandatorily declare certain attributes in the package of any pre-packed commodities which are intended to be commercialised in India. Section 18(1) of the Act specifies that no person shall manufacture, pack, sell, import, distribute, deliver, offer, expose or possess for sale any pre-packaged commodity unless such package is in such standard quantities or number and bears thereon such declarations and particulars in such manner as may be prescribed. U/S/18(2) the Act specifies, that any advertisement mentioning the retail sale price of a pre-packaged commodity shall contain a declaration as to the net quantity or number of the commodity contained in the package in such form and manner as may be prescribed.

Rule 6 of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, clearly defines the declarations to be made in the label of a pre-packaged commodity. Any pre-packaged commodity sold or manufactured without the declarations will be subjected to penalties under, Section 36(1) of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009.

Every packaged commodity shall contain, (As per Rule 6 of the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) rules, 2011)

  • The name and address of the manufacturer, or where the manufacturer is not the packer, the name and address of the manufacturer and packer and for any imported package the name and address of the importer shall be mentioned.
  • The common or generic names of the commodity contained in the package and in case of packages with more than one product, the name and number or quantity of each product shall be mentioned on the package.
  • The net quantity, in terms of the standard unit of weight or measure, of the commodity contained in the package or where the commodity is packed or sold by number, the number of the commodity contained in the package shall be mentioned.
  • The month and year in which the commodity is manufactured or pre-packed or imported shall be mentioned in the package.
  • Retail price of the package.
  • Where the sizes of the commodity contained in the package are relevant, the dimensions of the commodity contained in the package and if the dimensions of the different pieces are different, the dimensions of each such different piece shall be mentioned. 

c. Mandatory labelling requirements for Cosmetic Products

The packaging and labelling of cosmetic products in India is governed by several laws and rules. Many of these rules and legislations are overlapping in nature. “The Drugs & Cosmetics Act of 1940, The Drug & Cosmetics rules 2020”, “The Legal Metrology Act 2009 & Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Rules, 2011”, “ECO Labelling Standards by BIS”.

 

The packaging and labelling laws for cosmetics in India:>

  • Packaging and labelling laws(cosmetics)
  • The drugs & cosmetics Act,1940 and Rules,2020
  • The Legal Metrology Act,2009 and LM(packaged
    commodities) Rules, 2011

  • ECO Labelling Standards By BIS 

d. General declarations under the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) rules, 2011 and Drugs & Cosmetics rule 2020(Rule 34)

  • Common or generic name of the product on both inner and outer labels
  • Name & address of the manufacturer on both inner and outer labels.
  • Manufacturing date on both labels.
  • Expiry/use before date on both labels.
  • Net quantity with standard unit of weight and measure (as mentioned in Legal Metrology Act, 2009) on the outer label.
  • Retail sale price of the package.
  • Batch number is not necessary if the cosmetic is 10 grams or 25 millilitres or less. In the case of soaps, the month and year of manufacture may be given.
  • Warning or caution if hazards exist on the inner label and also a statement of names and quantities of the hazardous or poisonous ingredients.
  • Ingredients but not necessary for packs of less than 60 ml or 30 gm.
  • Registration Certificate Number (RCN) Only the label of imported cosmetics should bear RCN of the product.
  • Consumer care details.
  • Brown/red or green dots for non-vegetarian and vegetarian origins respectively.
  • Prominently labelled as Not a standard pack size under Legal Metrology(Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 if the specific commodity is not packed as mentioned in the second schedule of the Legal Metrology(Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.

e. Declarations on pre-packaged electronic goods.

The Department of Consumer Affairs said it has brought in Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities), (Second Amendment) Rules 2022, to allow electronic products to declare certain mandatory declarations through the QR Code for a period of one year if not declared in the package itself. The rule specifically mentions that any electronic product which is manufactured or packed or imported after the 15th July 2022, the package of such product shall, for a period of one year from such date shall through the QR code

  • Declare the name of the manufacturer or packer or importer and also inform the consumers to scan the QR code for the address and other related information.
  • Common or generic name of the product
  • Size and dimension of the product
  • Contact information of the manufacturer/packer/importer.

The declarations to be made in the package will be the same as that of the QR code.

CONCLUSION

Even though all these commodities are different genres and governed under different legislations, we can see an overlapping of guidelines when it comes to the labelling and packaging of these commodities. The guidelines relating to labelling and packaging of all these commodities, mentioned in their respective Act and rules shall be read along with the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rule, 2011. In short, these regulations are basically parallel in nature. The declarations for pre-packaged commodities, whether it be cosmetics, electronic goods or any other pre-packed product, are one and the same except for certain attributes. The respective statutes have made amendments according to the mandatory declarations to be made in pre-packaged commodities (mentioned in Rule 6) of the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Rules, 2011. These guidelines are provided to ensure the public, security and guarantee to the commodities they purchase through online or offline modes.