Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Food and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, has called for mandatory standards for more consumer goods and services. He has also stressed the need to simplify the procedures for standards certification so that more section of industry can come forward for voluntary certification and adoption of standards.
Chairing discussions with stakeholders on amendments in the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act Paswan said, besides more consumer goods and services should also be brought under mandatory quality certification. He said quality and standards should become hallmark of consumer services and products to give impetus to “Make in India”.
The need for amendments to BIS Act, 1986, accrued from situations demanding BIS to keep pace with the changing requirements of the industry and consumers. Amendments in the Act have become necessary, particularly with regard to the status of the Bureau as the National Standards Body of India. It covers various ways of conformity assessment and hallmarking, provision of re-calling the non-conforming products bearing the Standard Mark, enhancing the limit of financial penalty, including compounding / composition in the penal provision to reduce the long process of litigation and to provide the powers of compulsory certification and enforcing authority to the Bureau.
BIS Act envisages BIS to certify only goods and processes. But now the need for certification for systems and services is getting a strong, hence amendment has been proposed to include services also. Amendments will also position BIS as the National Standards Body of India and enable hallmarking of precious metals/articles and allow multiple conformity assessment schemes in tune with global practices. Amendments also propose to bring more products under mandatory certification.
Under WTO, standard goods can be imported, if similar domestic goods are also covered under the relevant standards. Hence amendments will strengthen provisions for global trade besides strengthening provisions of safety, health and environment, thereby providing enhanced consumer protection.
In a major step towards building consumer confidence, the amendments also provide for manufacturer to comply orders to recall non-conforming product and also makes it mandatory to repair or replace non-conforming product, providing compensation to the consumer.
To prevent lengthy and costly litigation and for speedy disposal of offences under the Act, provisions have been incorporated wherein Director General of BIS has been empowered to authorize the inspecting officer to compound the offence at the spot and to impose fine. The stakeholders participated in todays meeting included major industry associations including FICCI, ASSOCHAM, PHDCCI, CII, representatives from Ministry of Power, Ministry of Steel, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Health and Welfare and consumer associations.