Monday, March 26, 2012

Important cases related to Standards of Weights & Measures

The following cases are considered 'landmark' with respect to 'Standards of Weights & Measures'.

1) State of Maharashtra and Ors. Vs. Subhash Arjundas Kataria (2011)

Civil Appeal-I
Facts: The Inspector of Metrology (one of the Appellant's) had visited the Respondent's store and seized some Sun glasses. Despite a satisfactory explanation, the Inspector seized the sun glasses for allegedly not declaring name and address of the manufacturer/month and year of manufacturing which is in violation of provisions of the Act and the Rules.

Issue raised: Whether sun glasses can be considered "pre-packed commodity" under Rule
2(l) of the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977.

Decision: The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court and said that the expression "pre-packed commodity" would be applicable to commodities which are packed and the commodity packaged has a pre-determined value and that value cannot be altered without the package sold being opened at the time of sale or the product undergoes a modification on being opened. Also, Explanation I to Rule 2(l) of the Rules is not attracted because the package is not opened for the purpose of testing as in the case of electric bulbs. The sun glasses are tested by the buyer for his suitability only, and therefore, sun glasses, whether it be a frame or glass is not a pre-packed commodity within the definition of the expression "pre-packed" under Rule 2(l) of the Rules.(Image taken from here)

Civil Appeal-II
Facts of another Civil Appeal: The Inspector of Metrology (one of the Appellant's) had visited the Respondent's godown and seized various packages of packed commodities such as Candy man, Minto-Fresh, Kitchens of India Badam Halwa and Ashirvaad Atta etc. The reason given for seizure was that on the wholesale packets, the details regarding the name and addresses of the manufacturer, cost, month, year etc. had not been declared and also the retail sale price was not mentioned which was in violation of the Rules.

Issue raised: Whether Candy man, Minto-Fresh, Kitchens of India Badam Halwa and Ashirvaad Atta etc. can be considered as a wholesale package within the definition of the expression "wholesale package" under Rule 2(x) of the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977.

Decision: It was upheld by the Supreme Court that package used merely for protection during conveyance or safety would not be pre-packed commodity for purpose of Act and Rules. For a package to be treated as a wholesale package, the package must not be a secondary package. Secondary outer packing for transportation or for safety of goods being transported or delivered could not be described as a wholesale package.

Comment: Appeals have been referred to a larger bench since there is conflicting earlier decision in Whirlpool's case.

2) Whirlpool of India Ltd. Vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. (2007)

Facts: The Appellant was engaged in the manufacture of Refrigerators. The Central Govt. had issued a Notification under the Central Excise Act regarding valuation which covered Refrigerators and accordingly, the Appellant felt aggrieved by it since it would require him to print the MRP on the package of the Refrigerator manufactured by him.

Issue raised: Whether Refrigerator is a 'packaged commodity'.

Decision: A glance at Sec. 2(l) and more particularly to Explanation I would suggest that the Refrigerator is covered under the term 'pre-packed commodity'. Even if the package of the Refrigerator is required to be opened for testing, even then the Refrigerator would continue to be a 'pre- packed commodity'. There are various types of packages defined under the Rules and ultimately Rule 3 specifically suggests that the provisions of Chapter II would apply to the packages intended for 'retail sale' and the expression 'package' would be construed accordingly. There was no dispute that the sale of the Refrigerator is covered under the 'retail sale'. Once that position is clear, Rule 6 would specifically include the Refrigerator and would carry along with it the requirements by that Rule of printing certain information including the sale price on the package.

3) M/s. India Photographic Co. Ltd. Vs. H.D. Shourie (1999)

Facts: The Respondent, a consumer, had complained against the Appellant since the Appellant, who was selling films as representative of Kodak, was selling Kodak films without price printed on it.

Issue raised: Whether any rule nor any statute mandated or cast upon the dealers an obligation to exhibit /publish or print the price on the films rolls being imported and sold in India by its distributor.

Decision: The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the National Consumers Disputes Redressal Commission and said that accepting the plea of the dealer would frustrate the provisions and object of the Consumer Protection Act and thereby, encourage the retailers or distributors of foreign made goods to charge prices according to their convenience without letting the consumer know the actual price of the commodity. Accordingly, it held that dealers are also obliged to display the price. It also held that neither manufacturer nor distributor nor retailer could escape the liability of complying with provisions of Rule 6, i.e. making of mandatory declarations on a package. (Image taken from here)

4) ITC Ltd. Vs. State Nct of Delhi and Ors. (2008)

Facts: An inspection had been carried out at a distributor's store which was selling Petitioner's products and a complaint had been filed against the Petitioner, since he was the manufacturer, for not printing the price of the cigarettes on the packet.

Issue raised: Whether a wholesale package was required to display the maximum retail price (MRP)

Decision: It was held by the Delhi High Court that wholesale package need not contain the information that is required to be contained on a retail package. Packages covered by Rule 29, which provides for mandatory declarations on wholesale packages, would be outside the purview of retail sale as retail prices are not required to be mentioned on such packages.


Keywords: the legal metrology rules 2011, legal metrology act 2009, wholesale package, standards of weights and measures


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