Laws on MRP in India with Special Ref. to Legal Metrology(Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules 2017
Author: Shreya Pahwa
Designation: Student, B.Com LL.B(H), Amity Law School, Amity University, Noida
Out of the many things that we do daily is buying products without realizing the importance of the affixed MRP Label at the back of the product. No one knows the fact that there are laws that prescribe specific requirements that need to be adhered to.
First, the maximum retail price, commonly known as MRP, is the highest amount (inclusive of all taxes) that a consumer might be asked to pay for a packaged commodity. The concept of printing MRP was introduced vide Amendment to the Standards of Weights and Measures Act (Packaged Commodities Rules), 1997. Before this Amendment, the Manufacturers used to charge more in the name of local taxes. Hence, this Amendment was introduced to prevent customers from paying more, and it also introduced the concept of compulsory printing of MRP on all packaged commodities.
Owing to the evolution and rapid advancement of technology and development in weighing and measuring techniques, the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 repealed and replaced the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976. Presently, the Legal Metrology(Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 govern all MRP provisions and their affixation manner.
Highlights of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules, 2017
Through the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, the Government approved certain Amendments to the Legal Metrology(Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, which were to come in effect from January 01, 2018. The key amendments are as follows:
Declarations on the principal display area:
Name of the country- The Amendment has made it compulsory to declare the country of manufacture or origin or assembly on the package in case of imported products.
Retail sale price- The maximum price of a commodity, inclusive of all taxes, should be mentioned on the package. The price must be in Indian Rupees, and paise should be rounded off to 50 paise or the nearest rupee.
One product, one MRP- No product shall bear multiple MRPs on the same packaging. Therefore, no manufacturer, packer, or importer is permitted to declare different MRPs.
Best before- If the product is such as which is for human consumption and might become unfit after a certain period, the ‘best before or use by date, month and year’ needs to be mentioned on the package.
Additional declarations- The manufacturers, packers, or importers are now free to make any other declaration on the package. It could include (i) QR code or barcode (ii) Logos of Government scheme, such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, etc.
2. Size of the declarations to be made
The Amendment has brought about specific changes to the size of declarations. The height of any numeral or letter shall be as per the below-mentioned table, and the width shall not be less than one-third of its height.
3. Principal Display Area
In the case of a rectangular package- One entire side(height * width) should be considered.
In the case of a cylindrical package- Nearly 40% of the package’s total surface area.
In case of any other shape- 40% of the total surface area is to be considered as the principal display panel.
4. Details of the manufacturer
As per the Rules, every package meant for sale must mandatorily declare the details of the manufacturer, packer, or importer. The details herein refer to the name and complete address( including the name of the street, city, state, and PIN) of the manufacturer. Furthermore, where the package cannot hold more than ten cubic cm, a legible mark or inscription would suffice. This provision is merely for the ease of customers to identify the manufacturer of the product.
5. Fine for contravention of rules
For contravention of any of the rules, for which no punishment is provided, a fine of rupees five thousand is levied.
For contravention of any of the compounding offences, the fine is levied as per the below-mentioned table:
Keeping the above laws/rules in view, it is crucial that manufacturers, distributors, or importers who deal in products for retail sale comply with all the provisions. As mentioned above, non-compliance with the laws/rules would attract a penalty. Prior to this amendment, the rules were silent about products sold through e-commerce platforms, but this amendment has made it compulsory for the e-commerce sector. Though these might look like an additional task for the manufacturers/ distributors/ importers, it would increase transparency in the system and would be beneficial to the customers in the long run.