The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976

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The Act being one of Parliament short titled as the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 and has received assent of the President of India on 8th April, 1976. The Act makes provisions with the object to regulate the trade or commerce by providing standards in relation to the weights and measures. Looking to the thrust of the provisions provided under the Act, it appears that the basic object of the Act to sub-serve the interests of the consumers.

The Act divided under several Parts and provisions thereof. The First Part of the Act contains preliminary provisions including short title as aforesaid, the extension which is to cover entire Indian territories and commencement of provisions of the Act, i.e. the different dates of commencement could be provided by the Central Government for the different areas to which the Act was to be extended and even dates could be varied for commencing different provisions of the Act, for different classes of the undertakings, goods, weights and measures and classes of the users thereof. Moreover, several definitions are provided under this part. And section 3 speaks for the overriding effect of the provisions of this Act even though the same are inconsistent with the provisions of other laws.

The Second part is important as it is dealing with the main purpose of the Act. It says that all weight and measures unit are to be based upon the metric system units, as being standard units. Such Metric Units include, the General Conference on Weight and Measures recommended International System of Units and other units recommended by the organization of Legal Metrology being International Organisation. Further it is specified that, the length’s base units will be the metre, mass’s base unite will be kilogram, time’s base unite will a second, electric current’s base unit will be ampere, thermodynamic temperature’s base will be Kelvin, luminous intensity’s base will be candela and amount of substance’s base unit will be mole. Further, the section 12 says that the Central Government can provide for rules specifying such other base units and its weight or measure, etc. Similarly, the base unit of numeration is equal to international form of Indian numerals. All such numerations are required to be made as per decimal system.

Further the Act provides for determination of such values of Kilogram and other base units, where the Central Government is empowered to provide for preparation of national prototype of the kilogram and such other objects or equipments and the accuracy of all such objects to be certified by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. After such certification the said measures or equipments to be deposited with the custody of the Central Government, at the specified place. Further, the Central Government is to prescribe the physical characteristics, configuration, constructional details, etc. in respect to any weight or measure as per the recommendations of the International Organisation of Legal Metrology.

Moreover Act provides that other than the standard weight, measures, etc. given previously under this Act, no weight, measure or numeral should be used as a standard weight, measure, etc. However, the weight or measure can only be manufactured if it confirms the Standards thereof under this Act.

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Further, the Act says that, certain necessary sets of reference Standards are to be prepared and kept with Central Government for supplying to every State Governments and also for the purpose of this Act the Central Government can keep such reference Standards under its custody. Similarly, the Secondary Standards or working standards are to be prepared and kept under custody by the Central Government.

The part-III of the Act makes provisions for appointment by the Central Government of Director of legal metrology and Additional, Joint, Deputies or Assistants thereof and other officials or staff as are necessary to exercise powers and perform functions under this Act and they are also given a status of public servants. All such officials including Directors and their additional and assistants, etc. are given immunity against legal actions for their actions taken under good faith and in pursuance with the provisions of the Act.

Further, Part-VI of the Act makes provisions as to inter-state commerce and trade of weight, measures and other goods. The making or manufacturing of such weight or measures, etc. being subjected to this part, can be done under the approved modal sanctioned from the State Government and the state Government can issue such licence only with the previous approval from the Central Government. Similarly, the Act further provides for the packaged commodity intended to be sold in the course of Inter-state trade or commerce. It is required that such commodity can only be sold or distributed if such package bears a label describing the description of the commodity along with its quantity, etc.

Moreover, the Act under its next part makes provisions as to importing and exporting such weights and measures. More specifically, it provides for registration of importers, exporter thereof and other relevant provisions. Part IV provides for number of offences under the Act and their trial and offenders thereof are made liable under this to suffer imprisonment and also to pay fine. On the Director’s or authorized officer’s complaint or even in case of any person feels aggrieved then on his complaint the Court can take cognizance of the matters under this Act. Moreover, a recognized consumer association can also make complaint under this Act. Summary trial procedure by the Magistrate is provided under the Act for the offences in respect of which the maximum punishment is 1 year imprisonment. And certain offences can also be compounded under this Act by the Directors. However, the second time offenders are exempted from application of compounding provisions of the Act.

For imparting training in legal metrology, etc. the Central Government is empowered to establish an Institute, namely ‘Indian Institute of Legal Metrology’. Also the Central Government is again empowered under this Act to make rules for the purpose of this Act and on the given matters.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.