STANDARDIZATION AND QUALITY CONTROL IN INDIA
Though the consumer protection act was intended to empower the average consumer, the difficulty that is normally encountered is with regard to judging the quality of products. It is in order to overcome this marks of quality assurance have been introduced to help the consumer in making the right purchase decision. The most common marks associated with quality control are:
3. ECO MARK
The Bureau of Indian Standards is responsible for laying down the standards and checking its compliance for more than 100 different products produced in the country. These are products which should compulsorily display the certification and they pertain to health, safety and energy conservation. Commonly used products like LPG cylinders, electric stoves, iron boxes, water heaters, food additives etc. carry these ISI marks.
Agmark certifies the quality of agricultural products and this should be displayed for items like edible oil, ghee, flour etc.
Ecomark isgranted by the Bureau of Indian standards which certify that a product is environmental friendly.
Most products which need to be packaged have to confirm to certain specific rules. These packages must contain labels that display.
1. Name of the commodity
2. Net content
3. Name and address of the manufacturer
4. Month and year of manufacturer
5. Maximum retail price
In food products and medicine, the ingredients that go into it should also be displayed. Though these rules are applicable to all kinds of products, some are however exempted. For example items used exclusively by any industry either as a raw material or for servicing any mine or industry need not display this. However, this exemption is not applicable to yarn, cycle or auto parts. Similarly any package less than 20 grams other than drugs need not display its contents.
There are certain restrictions placed on packaging practices. No package should contain misleading words or phrases. The declaration on the package should not be tampered and the pricing should not be in the form of pasted stickers. The package should also not be unnecessarily large for small products.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
All products sold must be exactly as mentioned in the packaging in terms of weight and number and all other products sold by weight should be weighed by measuring instruments that are accurate and reliable. To ensure this, THE STANDARDS OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES ACT 1976 has been enacted. As per this the base unit of length is the meter and that of mass, kilogram. The act specifically mentions that any non standard weights or measure if used would be a violation of this act. There should also not be any non standard weights and measures in the premises of the supplier. Any tampering would be interpreted as a violation and sale or delivery of an article which is less than the number or quantity paid would be penalized. Punishments would be in the form of fine and habitual offenders may even be imprisoned.
In all such cases of violation, the issue can be raised by an aggrieved consumer, a consumer association or an authorized officer. These complaints are usually filed before either the district consumer forum or the inspector (weights and measures) of the area.