Quantity, manufacturing date, price to get 40 per cent of display on packets
The government has amended norms to make it mandatory for packaged-food manufacturing firms to display name of manufacture/packager/importer, net quantity of product, manufacturing date, retail sale price and consumer-care contacts more prominently in at least 40 per cent of the packet area.
The new guidelines, issued last year (May 2015) by the department of consumer affairs, following an amendment to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, will be effective from July. The department will establish a monitoring cell to ensure strict compliance with the new provision. The reason for the change, according to the department, is that consumers should be able to read the information easily.
The union minister of consumer affairs, food & public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has said that his ministry was setting up a quick response system to attend to consumer complaints and gearing up the existing National Consumer Helpline for the purpose. Paswan expressed his hope that the Consumer Protection Act would be passed by parliament in the second part of the Budget session.
Reviewing the working of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) during the governing body meeting, Paswan asked the Bureau to formulate rules to ensure early implementation of the new BIS Act so that a culture of quality goods and services could be ushered in. He further mentioned that BIS had taken various initiatives under ‘Make in India’ for standard formulation which included items relating to renewable energy, bio-fuel, auto components, electric machinery, etc.
Celebrities may be jailed for misleading ads
In an effort to protect consumer interests and make celebrities accountable for misleading ads, a parliamentary standing committee on consumer affairs has recommended stringent provisions. Among other things, the committee has included jail term up to five years and hefty penalty of up to Rs 50 lakh in its suggestions.
“The committee strongly feels that misrepresentation of a product especially of food product should be taken very seriously considering the influence of celebrities and high networth individuals and companies. The existing laws are not deterrent enough to discourage manufacturers or publishers from using such personalities for misleading ads,” the panel said in its report.
In its report on the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015, tabled in the parliament, the panel has suggested legal teeth to advertising watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to curb misleading ads. It has also proposed severe penalties, jail and cancellation of license of those involved in food adulteration. Moreover, the committee has advocated that the department of consumer affairs should be empowered to make laws to regulate the growing sectors of e-commerce, direct selling and multi-level marketing where consumer complaints are on the rise.
The government introduced the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015, in the Lok Sabha in August last year to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act. The panel’s report will be studied before final passage of the bill in parliament.