The Legal Metrology Department is wrongly penalizing companies for minor discrepancies on packaging labels and other trivial violations by shopkeepers, write Nitin Mittal and Harsh Aggarwal

The Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 (PC Rules), was introduced to ensure that all pre-packed products sold in retail, wholesale or through institutions bear certain mandatory declarations so that the end customer has the key information to make purchasing decisions and is not duped by unscrupulous sellers.

While the rules show the right spirit, the way they are interpreted and enforced on the ground do not always serve any added consumer interest but are instead causing harassment to genuine businesses.

There is a well-known legal maxim used in criminal jurisprudence: “actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea”; the act does not make a person guilty unless there is a criminal intent. To be guilty of a crime under the criminal law, there are two important elements, a guilty act (actus reus) and a guilty state of mind (mens rea).

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NITIN MITTAL is the head of legal/compliance and company secretary at Philips Lighting India. HARSH AGGARWAL is joint general manager of legal at Havells. The views expressed in this article are personal.