The Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 came into effect on the 23rd of December 1986. The main objective behind the enactment is to establish a bureau to develop the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods. The Act contains Seven (7) Chapters and Forty Two (42) sections. The Act, by its coming into effect, shall repeal the Indian Standards Institution (Certification Marks), 1958.The Act, which extends to the whole of India, under Section 3 provides for the establishment of the Bureau of Indian Standards. The Bureau shall be body corporate with a common seal and shall have perpetual succession and can hold acquire and dispose of properties and may also sue and get sued. The Bureau is a founding member and represents India in the International Organization for Standardization.

The Union Minister in charge of the department having control over the Bureau shall be the Ex-Officio President, while the State Minister in charge of the department having control over the Bureau shall be the Ex- Officio Vice President thereby. The Bureau shall also consist of the Secretary to the government of India and such number of persons as may be appointed by the Central Government. The Bureau shall in addition constitute an executive committee. The Bureau also has the power to form various advisory committees such as the Financial Committee Certification Advisory Committee etc.

Chapter IV of the Act enunciates the powers of the Bureau. The powers of the Bureau as enshrined under Section 10 of the Act includes the authority to ascertain and endorse the Indian standard as may be prescribed in relation to any articles or processes. The Bureau shall also stipulate a Standard mark (which shall be referred to as the Indian Standard Certification Mark) to represent a particular Indian Standard. It may also grant, reject and withdraw licenses for the use of such a standard mark. The bureau also has the right to impose any fee for the grant of such license. The Bureau shall have the additional function to recognize any other institution for the purpose of such standardization of any articles or processes.

J.Vibhu Bakhru in the case of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India & Anr v. The Director General of Income Tax Delhi & Ors (W.P.(C)Nos.3147,3148& 7181 of 2012)had observed that: “The BIS is empowered to frame rules and regulations, exercise coercive powers including inspection, raids; they possess search and seizure powers and are invariably subjected to Parliamentary and legislative oversight.”

The Act, under section 15, authorizes the Bureau to pass any order granting, rejecting or suspending a license and a party aggrieved by such order may prefer an appeal before the Central government. The Act also necessitates the compliance of the principle of Audi Alteram Partem; and forbids the disposal of an appeal without giving the appellant a fair, just and reasonable prospect of being heard. The decision of the Central Government in such matters shall be final. The Act also restricts the functioning of the Bureau by specifying, under Section 24, that it shall be bound by the policies introduced by the Central Government. The Bureau shall also have the power to appoint inspecting officers to inspect various articles or processes and verify the compliances to the standards as prescribed in accordance with the Act.

The makers of the enactment has also removed all uncertainties by stating within the Act the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 shall be applicable in cases of search and seizures. All the officers of the Bureau shall be deemed to be a public servant as defined under the Indian Penal Code. No suits or other legal proceedings shall lie against the Central government or any officers or employees of the Bureau, in cases of acts done by them in a bona-fide manner and in accordance with law. The Act also prescribes the punishments in cases of contraventions of the provisions enshrined within it. In cases of any violation of sections 11, 12, 14 or 15 of the Act, the offender shall be punishable with imprisonment for a period which may extend to one year or a fine which may extend to a maximum of Rupees Fifty Thousand. No Court lesser than the chief Judicial Magistrate shall have the power to entertain any matter punishable under this Act.

It is further intriguing to note that the Act has not been amended since its conception. Recently the BIS (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was introduced in the Lok Sabha and the bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution.