Standards, Weights and Measures of Products
- DEFENCE DEVELOPMENT – INDIGENISATION AND MODERNISATION OF INDIAN DEFENCE 0
- The Department of Heavy Industry – The Nodal Authority In India 0
- Indian Railways 0
Use of proper and accurate standards, weights and measures of products is very important for effective functioning of any economy, as it plays an indispensable role in promoting welfare of consumers. Through this, consumers are protected from malpractice of underweight or under measure. They get right and exact amount of product for the money spent by them. Further, marking and certification of quality of products bring confidence and satisfaction to the consumers. Their purchase decisions become simplified and they are assured that their needs for quality will be met. Hence, protection of consumers is accomplished by setting minimum quality specifications and safety standards for both goods and services as well as by establishing mechanisms to redress their grievances.
The Weights and Measures Unit, under the Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, has been set up to promote use of exact and correct weighing and measuring instruments. For this, various legislations have been enacted like Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976, Standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act 1985, Standards of Weights and Measures (General) Rules 1987 and Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged commodities) Rules, 1977. All such regulations aimed to ensure that consumers get the exact quantity of commodities, with mandatory declaration of relevant information on the package of goods; as well as facilitate use of standard weighing and measuring instruments in trade and commerce activities. Further, there are also Weights and Measures Departments/ Wings or Department of Legal Metrology in various States and Union Territories to regulate all such provisions of weights and measures.
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has been set up under Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 (BIS Act, 1986)as the National Standards Body of India. It majorly performs two types of activities, namely, formulation of quality standards of goods or services and their certification through Product Certification Scheme/ Quality Certification Scheme. BIS Act, 1986 seeks to protect the interests of the consumers and promote their welfare by formulating and enforcing the standardization, marking and quality certification of goods. Quality Management Systems serve as an indicator of the ability of the firm to meet quality needs of the consumers.
Weights and Measures Act
The ‘Weights and Measures’ regulations in any society form the basis of every commercial transaction, that is, production, trade and commerce activities. They are needed to ensure that products of correct as well as exact weights and measures are being provided to and used by consumers worldwide. In India, the nodal authority for regulating provisions of weights and measures is the Weights and Measures Unit, under the Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. The unit is involved in implementing the Acts and Rules relating to Weights and Measures. These are: Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976; Standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act 1985; Standards of Weights and Measures (General) Rules 1987; and Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged commodities) Rules, 1977.
The Acts, namely, Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 and the Standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act 1985, are mainly focused on ensuring that all weights or measures used for trade or commerce, for industrial production or for protection of human health and safety are accurate and reliable so that users are guaranteed of their performance and quality as well as the consumer gets the right quantity which he pays for. However, to make these laws more transparent and simple, the Government proposes to amend the two Acts and accordingly enact a comprehensive unified legislation, combining the features of two existing Acts under consideration:-
Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976
This Act was enacted to establish standards of weights and measures, to regulate inter-State trade or commerce in weights, measures and other goods which are sold or distributed by weight, measure or number, to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Under the Act, weight and measures also include ‘weighing or measuring instrument’ which means “any object, instrument, apparatus or device, or any combination thereof, which is, or is intended to be, used, exclusively or additionally, for the purpose of making any weighment or measurement, and includes any appliance, accessory or part associated with any such object, instrument, apparatus or device”.
The main features of this Act are:
- Every unit of weights or measures shall be based on the units of the metric system, which is the international system of units as recommended by the General Conference on Weights and Measures, and such additional units as may be recommended by the International Organisation of Legal Metrology. For example, the base unit of length to be the metre; mass – kilogram; time – second; electric current – ampere; thermodynamic temperature – kelvin; luminous intensity – candela; amount of substance – mole; and of numeration – unit of the international form of Indian numerals.
- The Act prohibits the use of any non-standard weight or measure or numeral. Thus, use of stones, bricks, copies, or weights made of non-standard material is strictly prohibited.
- The Central Government shall, in relation to any weight or measure, prescribe the physical characteristics, configuration, constructional details, materials, equipment, performance, tolerances, methods or procedures of tests in accordance with the recommendations made by the International Organisation of Legal Metrology.
- When commodities are sold or distributed in packaged form in the course of Inter-State trade or commerce, it is essential that every package bears a definite, plain and conspicuous declaration thereon showing the identity of the commodity in the package; the net quantity, in terms of the standard unit of weight or measure, or the commodity in the package; where the commodity is packaged or sold by number, the accurate number of the commodity contained in the package; the Unit sale price of the commodity as well as the sale price of that particular package of that commodity. The name and address of the manufacturer as well as of the packer or distributor should also be mentioned on the package.
- The Act states that no person shall sell, distribute or deliver for sale a package containing a commodity which filled less than the prescribed capacity of such package, except where it is proved by such person that the package was so filled with a view of (i) giving protection to the contents of such package; or (ii) meeting the requirements of machines used for enclosing the contents of such package.
- Where any weight or measure, sent from a transferor State (the State from which any weight or measure made or manufactured therein, or kept therein for sale or use, is sent to, or delivered in any other State) for delivery, sale or use in a transferee State (the State in which any weight or measure is delivered or received for sale or use therein from any other State), is such that (i) it is not required to be dismantled before its dispatch to the transferee State and is not likely to lose its accuracy by reason of such dispatch, it shall be known as a weight or measure of the first category;(ii) it is required to be dismantled before its dispatch to the transferee State and re-assembled and installed for use in the transferee State, it shall be known as a weight or measure of the second category.
- Weight or measure of the first category shall, before it is dispatched to any transferee State, be produced before the local Inspector in the transferor State and if such Inspector is, after verification of such weight or measure, satisfied that such weight or measure conforms to the standards established by or under this Act, stamp the same with such special seal as may be specified by rules made under this Act. While, weight or measure of the second category shall not be verified and stamped in the transferor State but shall be verified and stamped, after its reassembly and installation for use, by the local Inspector in the transferee State.
- The fees for the verification and stamping of every weight or measure of (i) the first category shall be levied and collected by the transfer or State; and (ii) the second category shall be levied and collected by the transferee State.
- A weight or measure, whether of the first or second category, shall not require periodical re-verification if it is exclusively intended for domestic use and is not used by any member of the medical profession in the course of such profession.
- No dealer or manufacturer shall export or import any weight or measure unless he is registered as exporter or importer, as the case may be. Every person who intends to commence or continue business as an exporter or importer of any weight or measure shall make, within prescribed time, an application for the inclusion of his name in the register to be maintained for the purpose. The application shall be made to the Director and every such application shall be made in prescribed form and on payment of prescribed fees. On receipt of an application, the Director shall, if he is satisfied after such inquiry as he may think fit, that it is expedient in the public interest so to do, include the name of the applicant in the register and issue to the applicant a certificate to the effect that his name has been so included and send a copy of the said certificate to the Controller of Legal Metrology in the State in which such exporter or importer is carrying on his business.
Standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act 1985
This Act was enacted to provide for the enforcement of the standards of weights and measures established by or under the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
As per the Act, in relation to any goods or things which are sold, transferred, distributed or delivered, or any service rendered (except those permitted under the Standards Act), no person is allowed to-
(i) quote, or make announcement of, whether by word of mouth or otherwise, any price or charge
(ii) issue or exhibit any price list, invoice, cash memo or other document.
(iii) mention any weight or measure in any advertisement, poster or other document.
(iv) indicate the weight or measure or number of the net contents of any package.
(v) express any quantity or dimension, in relation to any transaction, industrial production or protection.
Every person, who intends to commence, or carry on, the use of any weight or measure in any transaction or for industrial production or for protection, shall make, within prescribed time, an application for the inclusion of his name in a register to be maintained for the purpose, referred to as the ‘Register of Users’, in prescribed form and on payment of specified fees. This application shall be made to the Controller or to such other person as the Controller may authorize in this behalf.
On receipt of the application, the Controller or the person authorized by him shall include the name of such person in the Register of Users and issue to the applicant a certificate to the effect that his name has been so included.
The Act further states that no person shall make, manufacture, repair or sell, or offer, expose or possess for repair or sale, any weight or measure unless he holds a valid licence issued in this behalf by the Controller authorizing such person to do so.
Every person who intends to commence business, as a maker, manufacturer, repairer or seller of any weight or measure, shall make an application in prescribed form and on payment of prescribed fees, for the issue of a licence to him, and every licence so issued may be renewed if an application for its renewal is made by such person in the prescribed form at least one month before the expiry of the period of its validity.
Rules relating to Weights and Measures
The specifications of measuring instruments used in commercial transaction, industrial production and measurement involved in public health and human safety are given in the Standard of Weights and Measures (General) Rules 1987. The Department of Consumer Affairs has already set in motion the process of adopting new specifications in these Rules in accordance with the recommendations made by International Organizations of Legal Metrology (OIML) to regulate newer types of weighing and measuring instruments. Towards this end, the Rules have been amended to incorporate new specification of automatic rail weighbridges, digital type clinical thermometers, automatic gravimetric filling instruments, Standard Weights for testing higher capacity weighing machines, discontinuous totalising automatic weighing instruments Sphygmomanometer and CNG gas dispensers based on OIML recommendation.
The Weights and Measures regulation in India also regulate the sale of commodities in ‘pre-packed form’ in the course of inter-State trade or commerce. The Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged commodities) Rules, 1977 require the manufacturers/ packers to indicate mandatory declaration of certain basic information on the packaged commodities to safeguard the interest of consumers as well as ensure availability of the declared quantity of the product in the package. The Rules also require importers to provide certain basic declarations on imported packages, similar to those for indigenous packages. However, the entire Rules are being reviewed to make them simpler and transparent.
Bureau of Indian Standards Act
In India, the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 (BIS Act, 1986) is the main Act governing the preparation and enforcement of standards for goods. It extends to the whole of India. It has been enacted to provide for the establishment of a Bureau for the harmonious development of the activities of standardisation, marking and quality certification of goods and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Under this Act, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), being the National Standards Body of India, became functional as a statutory body with effect from April 1987, taking over staff, assets and liabilities of Indian Standards Institution (ISI). Since then, the Bureau has been actively and successfully engaged in promoting and nurturing the standardization movement in the country. It has been formulating need-based Indian Standards in line with the national priorities as a time bound programme.
The Act defines ‘Indian Standard’ as the standard (including any tentative or provisional standard) established and published by the Bureau, in relation to any article or process indicative of the quality and specification of such article or process; and any standard established and published, or recognised, by the Indian Standards Institution and which is in force immediately before the date of establishment of the Bureau. While the term ‘mark’ includes “a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, pictorial representation, name, signature, word, letter or numeral or any combination thereof”.
Some of the salient features of the BIS Act, 1986 can be listed as follows:
- As per the Act, the Bureau has been assigned the following functions:-
- To establish, publish and promote ‘Indian Standards’ in relation to any article or process;
- To recognise as an ‘Indian Standard’ any standard established by any other Institution in India or elsewhere, in relation to any article or process;
- To specify the design and other particulars of a Standard Mark to be called the Bureau of Indian Standards Certification Mark;
- To grant, renew, suspend or cancel a licence for the use of the Standard Mark and to levy fees for this purpose;
- To make inspections and take samples of any material or substance to see whether any article or process in relation to which the Standard Mark has been used conforms to the Indian Standard or whether the Standard Mark has been improperly used in relation to any article or process with or without a licence;
- To establish, maintain and recognise laboratories for the purposes of standardisation and quality control of articles and processes;
- To undertake research for the formulation of Indian Standards in the interests of consumers and manufacturers; etc.
- Any person who desires to use a standard mark in relation to any article or process is required to obtain a licence. The Bureau shall, by order, grant, renew, suspend or cancel a licence subject to fulfillment of specified conditions and on payment of the prescribed fees.
- The Act prohibits the use of Standard Mark or any colourable imitation thereof, in relation to any article or process, or in the title of any patent, or in any trade mark or design, except under a licence. Even after obtaining a licence, the use of Standard Mark or any colourable imitation thereof, is not permitted unless that article or process conforms to the Indian Standard.
- The Act prohibits use of any name which so nearly resembles the name of the Bureau as to deceive or likely to deceive the public or which contains the expression “Indian Standard” or any abbreviation thereof without the previous permission of the Bureau. Besides this, any mark or trade mark in relation to any article or process containing the expressions “Indian Standard” or “Indian Standard Specification” or any abbreviation of such expressions, is also prohibited.
- The Act prohibits any registering authority to register any company, firm or other body of persons which bears any name or mark; or register a trade mark or design which bears any name or mark; or grant a patent, in respect of an invention, which bears a title containing any name or mark; if the use of such name or mark is in contravention of this Act.
- If the Central Government, after consulting the Bureau, is of the opinion that it is necessary or expedient so to do, in the public interest, it may, by order published in the Official Gazette, notify any article or process of any scheduled industry which shall conform to the Indian Standard; and direct the use of the Standard Mark under a licence as compulsory on such article or process.
- Any person who contravenes any specified provisions of the Act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, or with bot
Quality Management System and Certification
Marking and quality certification of products and services have become very important in today’s rapidly changing business scenario. This facilitate the production of quality goods/services as well as make them available for the satisfaction of consumers at large. Because of this, consumers get better choice and assurance of consistency in quality of product/ service with its timely delivery. Further, they also get monitoring of the firm’s supplies and clear indication of its capabilities. Hence, their time and money is saved in doing assessment of the suppliers. This system of certification and marking is also beneficial for producers as well. This helps them to gain a competitive edge in domestic as well as global market. Disruptions created to their routine due to multiple assessment by various customers is also reduced. They become more liable to produce quality goods matching international standards.
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the main authority which has been promoting the industrial development in the country by formulation of National Standards, Operation of Product Certification Scheme, Management Systems Certification Schemes and Training.
The Product Certification Scheme of BIS aims to provide the Third Party Guarantee of quality, safety and reliability of products to the ultimate consumers. Under the scheme, BIS grants licences to manufacturers after assuring that their product quality conform to the prescribed national standards/ specifications. The certification permits the licensees to use ISI certification mark, known as Standard Mark, on their product. This conformity is ensured by regular surveillance of the licensee’s performance by surprise inspections and testing of samples, drawn from both the market and factory.
ISI Mark holds a good brand image in the eyes of consumers as it gives assurance about the quality of product. Therefore, the consumer as well as organized purchaser gives preference to the ISI marked products over non-ISI products.
The Product Certification Scheme is basically voluntary in nature and is largely based on ISO Guide 28, which provides general rules for third party certification system for determining conformity of product quality with standards. It covers varied industrial disciplines such as agriculture, textiles, electronics, metal products, rubber and plastic, automotives, leather, wood, paper and pulp products, etc.
However, for a number of items affecting health and safety of the consumer and those of mass consumption, this Scheme has been made mandatory by the Government through various statutory measures such as Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, Mines Act, Gas Cylinders Rules, along with Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986. Some of such items brought under mandatory certification are LPG Cylinders, pressure stoves, Self ballasted lamps for general lighting services (commonly known as CFL), Processed cereal based complementary foods for infants, Sweetened ultra high temperature treated condensed milk, skimmed milk powder, constant speed compression ignition (diesel) engines for general purposes (up to 20 KW), Refillable Seamless Steel Gas Cylinders, clinical thermometers, packaged drinking water, different types of cement, etc.
To complement and support the activity of product certification, BIS have established a chain of 8 laboratories in five regions, that is, Sahibabad, Kolkata, Mohali, Mumbai and Chennai as well as a network of 33 Branch Offices set up in the State Capitals or major industrial towns. Out of this, six laboratories have been accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for their testing facilities. Electrical Calibration Laboratory at Sahibabad has been accredited for its calibration facility.
BIS has also introduced Certification Schemes for foreign manufacturers and Indian importers. Under these schemes, foreign manufacturers can seek certification from BIS for marking their products with BIS Standard Mark and Indian importers can also seek BIS certification for applying BIS Standard Mark on the products being imported into the country. Under the BIS Certification scheme for foreign manufacturers, 65 licences have been granted and three licences have been granted to importers. Besides, there is BIS Certification Scheme for Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery which has been launched to protect consumers against any fraudulent practices due to irregular gold quality. It, thus, instills confidence in the consumer about the purity of gold jewellery and seeks to develop India as a leading gold market centre in the world. The scheme is voluntary in nature and operates through BIS network of regional and branch offices located across the country. Under this, a jeweller has to obtain certification mark licence from BIS to get his jewellery hallmarked from a BIS recognised Assaying and Hallmarking Centre. The recognition of these Centres is done by BIS after ensuring that the Centre are following BIS Criteria for Hallmarking based on laid down norms for sampling, assaying and hallmarking as well as have adequate testing facilities, trained and competent manpower.
Another major Scheme being operated by BIS is the Quality Management Systems Certification Scheme, which is operating as per IS/ISO 9001:2000 standard. The scheme was launched in 1991 covering a wide range of industry as well as service sectors including engineering, chemicals, pharmaceutical, cement, ceramics, food, textiles, automotives, mechanical, metallurgical, electronics, aeronautics, hospitals, financial, banking services, construction, hospitals, wholesale and retail trade, education and training, hotel, power, printing, telecommunications, testing laboratories and information technology. This scheme has received accreditation in 23 technology sectors from the Raad voor Accreditatie (RvA) of Netherlands, an international accreditation body of repute and in 9 technology sectors from Quality Council of India (QCI). In simpler terms, accreditation refers to certification of the certification body.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies, which aims to promote the development of standardization and related activities in the world with a view to facilitating international exchange of goods and services, and to developing cooperation in the spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity. The results of ISO technical work are published as International Standards. The ISO 9000 family of standards represents an international consensus on good management practices with the aim of ensuring that the organization can deliver the product or services that meet the consumer’s quality requirements. BIS is a founder member of ISO and represents India in ISO.
ISO 9001:2000 is one of the core standards in the family of ISO 9000 standards which deals with the requirements of Quality Management Systems. The main benefits of implementing these requirements and getting certification licence under Quality Management Systems Certification Scheme are:-
- provides an opportunity to increase value to the activities of the organization.
- provides clear indication of firm’s capabilities as well as strong evidence of its commitment to quality.
- improves the performance of processes/activities continually.
- leads to less material wastage, production down time, rework, etc. through an increase in ‘quality know-how’ and efficiency.
- provides satisfaction to consumers by assuring them quality of products.
- facilitates proper implementation of statutory and regulatory requirements related to products/services.
- facilitates better resource management; etc.
Education and Awareness of Consumers
Protection and promotion of consumer’s rights and interests is a vital function of the Government of any economy. It is basically a social and political necessity and is essential for all round progress of the country. In rapidly changing business environment and emerging global markets, expectations of the people of the country for better services, quality goods, availability of choices and value for money has been continuously rising. Accordingly, both public and private sectors are undertaking several policy initiatives, schemes and incentives to promote consumers’ welfare in the country. They are making all efforts to ensure that consumers are provided with every relevant information in order to avoid any kind of exploitation and given a rational choice in selection of products and services from the market.
Consumers need to be made aware and educated about their existing rights, which are: (i) right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services, which are hazardous to life and property; (ii) right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices; (iii) right to be assured, wherever possible of access to variety of goods and services at competitive price; (iv) right to be represented in various forums formed to consider the consumer’s welfare; (v) right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and (vi) right to acquire the knowledge and skill to be an informed consumer throughout life. That is, there is need to generate consumer awareness on large scale about basic aspects such as maximum retail price (MRP), Hallmarking of gold jewellery, Indian Standard Institute (ISI) mark on products and expiry dates.
At the Central level, the Department of Consumer Affairshas been set up under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to protect the rights of consumers, promote standards of goods and services as well as for redressal of consumer grievances. It has been undertaking ‘National Action Plan for Consumer Awareness and Redressal and Enforcement of Consumer Protection Act, 1986′ for consumers’ protection and creating awareness among them. It is operating Consumer Welfare Fund which aims to provide financial assistance for promoting and protecting the welfare of the consumers as well as strengthening the voluntary consumer movement in the country. The Centre for Consumer Studies (CCS) at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) has been set up to facilitate in-depth action research in the area of consumer protection and education. As a part of the initiative of the Fund, the ‘Scheme on Promoting Involvement of Research Institutions/ Universities and Colleges in Consumer Protection and Consumer Welfare’ is being financed and administered by CCS, IIPA. While, at the State level, initiatives with respect to consumer’s welfare by promoting awareness and education among them are handled by Departments of Consumer Affairs; Departments of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Welfare; etc. which are located in various States and Union Territories (UTs) of the country.