The Legal Metrology Division of the Department of Consumer Affairs vide notification dated 04.08.2020 invited comments on the proposal to decriminalize certain provisions of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009.

In order to ensure ease of doing business in India and to foster an investor friendly climate in the country, the Central Government had proposed to decriminalize ‘minor offences’ under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 and to substitute criminal liability with stiff compoundable monetary penalties of civil nature that can act as “adequate deterrent” without compromising public interest.

The said notification therefore invited all the stakeholders, including the State Governments/ UT Administrations, Civil Societies/ NGOs, Academicians, Public and Private Sector Organizations, Multilateral Institutions and members of the public, to submit their comments on the proposed amendments latest by 12.08.2020.

Comments/ suggestions may be submitted to the Ministry at the following address: Joint Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi- 110001.

The ministry had proposed fines up to Rs 10, 00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakh Only) for repeat offenders and to do away with the provision of jail. Besides high fines, it proposed to start the process to cancel the licence of such entities, if they don’t mend their ways.

While there is no provision for arrest when an offence committed contravening the provisions of the Legal Metrology Act , 2009 such as using non-standard weights and measures or tampering or altering these instruments of measurement, but the offender can be jailed if he or she fails to turn up in court if it is escalated to that level.

The government, however, would like to remove this prison term from the provisions of the Act and has invite comments from civil society groups, experts, and industry through a consultation process commenced this week.

“Criminal offence often requires the standard of proof to be beyond reasonable doubt, a much higher threshold than the standard adopted for civil wrongs. Many critics have, therefore, questioned the efficiency of criminal law in dealing with misconduct; many offences which are of technical nature could be shifted to civil liability from criminal liability,” the Consumer Affairs Ministry consultation paper said.