Source: ETRetail.com, Dec 19, 2016
NEW DELHI: Did you know that your shirt may be among several products that mandatorily need a date of manufacturing? And till a few years ago, some shirts also had to mention the date of expiry to avoid “visits“ by “inspectors“.
The country’s archaic and often bizarre rules for garment manufacturers and retailers meant that the last vestiges of `Inspector Raj’ continued for this crucial sector. Most of them, including some of the biggest names in the industry , have been grappling with laws that treat clothes in the same way that inspectors deal with packaged atta or sugar.
There are several examples to show how bizarre the rules are. In a metropolitan city , inspectors from the state’s weight and measures department issued a notice to the directors of a leading garment brand as the tag did not mention the measurement in metres.
In the same city , another notice was served as the price tag on 10 out of 6,000 garments in a store did not carry the “proper retail sales price“ since the law requires pricing in two decimal points. There was another alleged violation as the customer care number should have been a landline phone and not a mobile number, which was mentioned on the price tag.
In another metro, the price instead of being “inclusive of all taxes“ was “inclusive of all taxe“ -reason enough for the state machinery to serve a notice for violation of the Legal Metrology (Package & Commodities) Rules, 2011.
As a result of the outdated rules, even for a shirt or a pair of socks, the manufacturing date is required -so mething that most buyers hardly notice when buying garments. Similarly , just writing Small, Medium or Large will not suffice since the rules require garment makers to provide the measurement in centimetres.And, writing “cm“ instead of “cms“ allows the government to hold the director of a company liable with possible imprisonment and fine. That gives inspectors enough reason to land at outlets and start serving notices. “Basically, many of them want a monthly deal,“ said a leading textiles player who did not wish to be identified, fearing harassment in several states where he has outlets.
Industry players have petitioned the government that just putting shirts in a plastic cover does not turn them into a “packaged commodity“ as the idea is to protect the fabric from dust. Similarly , clothes are not sold by weight and, therefore, it should have a different set of rules instead of applying same principles as other commodities covered by the Standards of Weights & Measures Act.
While industry has been petitioning the government for several years, things seem to be finally falling in place. Textiles minister Smriti Irani has flagged the issue to consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan, whose ministry is likely to significantly ease the Legal Metrology (Packaged & Commodities) Rules for a majority of the garment sector.
“Nearly 95% of the industry will be unburdened as the rules will apply to packs of twothree shirts, undergarments or handkerchiefs,“ said a source. The government is keen to ensure that the key textiles sector, seen as a massive generator of jobs, does not remain in the vice-like grip of this `Inspector Raj’. The urgency to scrap regulations is also seen as a step to improve the ease of doing business in the country .Industry players said that since Irani‘s intervention in August, states have also been a little more “sensitive“.
“We are grateful to the two ministers, who immediately realised and accepted our view point, and have assured us to remove this obvious anomaly ,“ said Rahul Mehta, president of the Clothing Manufacturers’ Association of India.