NEW DELHI: Selling packaged items at more than the maximum retail price (MRP) would attract Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000 fine for the first offence and up to Rs 1 lakh for a repeat offence, the consumer affairs ministry has proposed while seeking to replace jail terms with stiff monetary penalties. The measures are part of the overhauling of the Legal Metrology Act and the ministry has proposed fines of up to Rs 10 lakh for repeat offences under different sections and also in some cases made provisions for cancellation of licences. The provision of fine for selling packaged items over MRP would be applicable for commodities such as packaged water and food products and all other consumer durable and non-durable items. The provisions of the Act are applicable only for packaged commodities. Currently, fine of up to Rs 5,000 can be imposed for over-pricing under the Packaged Commodities Rules. Proposing to decriminalise the offences, the ministry’s draft document published for public consultation says, “For repetition of the same or similar offence committed earlier, a fine may be sufficient, since the violation may not necessarily involve mala fide or criminal intent and may not adversely affect public interest at large. Thus a review of the penalties needs to be done.” The current law has provision for imprisonment of up to six months and fine for second or subsequent offences like use of non-standard weight, measure or numeration. The ministry has proposed this can be replaced with the penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh and initiating the process of cancellation of licence issued by the state or central government, if the compounding is not done after the appeal stage. Similar provisions have been proposed for manufacture or sale of non-standard weights or measures. Currently, the second or subsequent offence attracts jail term of up to three years or fine or both. The ministry has also proposed to amend a section, which empowers courts to publish names, place of business and other details of companies convicted for any offence. The current law says the company may nominate any director as the person responsible for the conduct of the business. The ministry has proposed that the company may nominate at managerial level rather than at director level since “board of directors may not be involved in day-to-day functioning of the company/ factory and also may not be available at the time of occurrence of an offence”.
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