On 27th January 2023, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution vide its notification number G.S.R. 60(E) (“Notification”) has amended the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 (“Rules”) through the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Amendment (Amendment) Rules, 2023 (“Amendment”). This Notification is just an extension to comply with the amendments specified in notification number G.S.R. 226(E) (“Principal Notification”). The amendment specified in the Principal Notification has made some significant changes in the Rules, substituting a sub-rule to Rule 6 which talks about the Declarations to be made on every package, along with modifications in other rules as well.

Legal Amendment - Update

The following sub-rule was added by the amendment:

3. In the said rules, in rule 6, for sub-rule (11), the following sub-rule shall be substituted, namely:— “(11) The unit sale price in rupees, rounded off to the nearest two decimal place, shall be declared on every pre-packaged commodities in the following manner, namely:—

(i) per gram where net quantity is less than one kilogram and per kilogram where net quantity is more than one kilogram;

(ii) per centimeter where net length is less than one metre and per metre where net length is more than one metre;

(iii) per millilitre where net volume is less than one litre and per litre where net volume is more than one litre;

(iv) per number or unit if any item is sold by number or unit;

Provided that for 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.

Provided further that declaration of unit sale price is not required for the prepackaged commodities in which retail sale price is equal to the unit sale price.”

What does it mean?

  • This amendment explains how the Unit Sale Price (USP) on every prepackaged commodity shall be declared.
  • USP states the price value per unit of measurement.
  • It states that the USP shall be rounded off to the adjacent two decimal places.
  • For Ex. If a pre-packaged commodity of 300g has a price value of Rs.65, then the manner in which the declaration shall be made is as follows:
    • MRP (Inclusive of all taxes) Rs.65; Rs.0.22/gm. [Same manner to be followed for other units of measurements]
  • The Amendment specifies that the USP on a pre-packaged commodity shall not be mentioned where its retail price is equal to that of the USP. For Ex. If a pre-packaged commodity of 1kg has a price of Rs. 100, then the USP shall not be mentioned on the commodity.
  • It further states that the State's Excise Law and the rules made thereunder shall be applicable to all spirituous liquor and alcoholic beverages in the State it has been manufactured in.
  • This amendment has also omitted the Second Schedule, which was read as ‘Commodities to be packed in specified quantities.'
  • Sub-rule 2 of Rule 33, which stated the Central Government's power to relax and permit a manufacturer or packer or importer to pack or sell off the packages other than specified in the Second Schedule for a maximum period of one year, has been omitted in accordance with the amendment brought through the Principal Notification.
  • It has further prescribed that no prosecution will be initiated against the manufacturer or packer or importer of pre-packaged commodities for making declaration with effect from the 1st of April, 2022 in accordance with Rules.

In Sum

The Notification has extended the time limit for the manufacturers, packers and importers to comply with the amendments brought through the Principal Notification, which has been a huge relief for them as they have been provided with additional time, i.e. till 1st April, 2023. The concerned Ministry has been extending said time limit for compliance of the Principal Notification several times vide notification number G.S.R 747(E), which extended it from ‘1st October 2022 to 1st December 2022', G.S.R. 859(E), which extended it from ‘1st December 2022 to 1st January 2023', G.S.R. 910(E), which extended it from ‘1st January 2023 to 1st February 2023' and the latest Notification, which has now extended it from ‘1st February 2023 to 1st April 2023'.

All manufacturers, packers, and importers will be required to follow the guidelines and revisit and change their commodity packaging in conformity with the rules if no additional extension is given. For businesses, compliance with the Principal Notification is critical for maintaining their reputation and avoiding legal issues. Failure to comply with the provisions of this notification can result in fines, penalties and even legal action. Additionally, businesses that are not in compliance with the Principal Notification may find it difficult to compete with businesses that are in compliance, as consumers are more likely to choose business that are known to be following fair trade practices and providing accurate information about the price of goods.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.