Standards of Weights and Measures Act was passed to establish standards of weights and measures and regulate its use. Packaging Commodities Rules were framed under the Act to regulate packaging commodities. Standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act, 1985 was passed with a view to enable State Governments to enforce provisions of Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976. The Act is administered by Ministry of Civil Supplies and is primarily to protect the consumers.
The Act can be termed as ‘3 in 1’ Act as it is designed to (a) standardise weights and measures (b) Control manufacture and sale of weights and measures to ensure accuracy (c) Control over packaging commodities.
Provisions regarding packaging commodities applicable to all sales - Provisions in the Act regarding packaged goods have been made applicable only to Inter-State trade and commerce. However, section 33 of Standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act, 1985 has extended these provisions to sale, distribution etc. within the State also. Thus, effectively, these provisions are applicable to all sales i.e. within State as well as Inter-State sales.
Standard units - The Act specifies that metric system will be used for weight or measure of any unit [section 4(1)]. The Act gives specifications of base units i.e. Metre (for length), kilogram (for mass), second (for time), ampere (for electric current), Kelvin [for thermo-dynamic temperature), candela (for luminous intensity), mole (for amount of substance) and international form of Indian numerals (for basis of numeration). Act provides that derived, supplementary or other units will be prescribed by Central Government by rules [section 12].
National prototypes and standards - Central Government will prepare national prototype of kilogram and Metre certified by International Bureau of Weights and Measures (section 15). For other units, Central Government will prepare national standards, which will be certified periodically by International Bureau of Weights and Measures (section 16). Reference standards, secondary standards and working standards will also be made and kept as prescribed by Central Government (section 18). Reference standards will be supplied by Central Government to State Government. The secondary and working standards will be verified and stamped by prescribed authority [section 26].
Prohibition of non-standard weight or measure - Use of non-standard weight or measure and non-standard numeral is prohibited (section 21). Manufacture of non-standard weight and measure is also prohibited [section 22]. Inscripttion on weight, measures or other goods will be only in accordance with standard unit such as weight, measure or numeration (section 23). Non-standard weight and measure can be manufactured or inscribed only with permission of Central Government for scientific investigation or exports. [Thus, use of units like inch, foot, pound, acre etc. is indeed prohibited]. Use of such non-standard units in any notification, rule, contract, deed or any instrument is prohibited under section 80. Such contract or agreement shall be void - a very harsh provision not known to many [section 80(3)]. Even use of numerals in Devnagri is prohibited. Numerals must be only in Roman i.e. international form, i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.
Department of Legal Metrology - Central Government has formed Department of Legal Metrology. Director, Additional Director, Asst. Director and other staff will be appointed by Central Government for exercising the powers and duties under the Act [section 28]. Powers to these officers will be assigned by Central Government. Powers exercisable by these officers can also be delegated to State Government officers by Central Government. The Director and other officers of department of Legal Metrology will be ‘public servants’ within the meaning of section 21 of IPC.
Manufacturer to have licence - Manufacturers of weights and measures should have a licence (section 37). They have to get their models of weight and measures approved by Central Government before obtaining licence for manufacture.
Verification and stamping of weights - Weights and measures sent from one State to another for sale or use will be verified and stamped before despatch. Weights which are dispatched as it is i.e. without any dismantling before despatch are called ‘weights and measures of first category’. Weights which are required to be dismantled before despatch and re-assembled and installed at other end, are called ‘weights and measures of second category’. The weights and measures of second category will have to be again verified and stamped at other end [section 41].
Provisions regarding commodities packed for sale or distribution - Most of the provisions discussed so far relate to standardisation of weights and measures, manufacture and export of them etc. Only limited number of persons are affected by these provisions. However, many manufacturers and dealers are affected by provisions in respect of packaging commodities. Provisions regarding packaging commodities apply to a person who (a) make, manufacture, pack, sell or cause to be packed or sold or (b) distribute, deliver, or cause to be distributed or delivered or (c) offer, expose or possess for sale : any commodity in packaged form [section 39]. The package or label securely attached to such packing must contain declaration on a package or on label as prescribed.
Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977 - These rules have been framed by Central Government as per powers given under the Act. These rules are applicable for inter-State sales as well as sale within State