Mansimran Kaur

Mumbai, June 9, 2022: While applying the principle of harmonious construction, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court has held that as the declaration of net quantity is required to be made under Rule 19(1)(v) read with Rule 19(3) to 19(7) of the Insecticide Rules, 1971, which is a specific provision pertaining to insecticides, the same would prevail over the general requirements specified in Rule 8(1) of the Legal Metrology Rules , 2011

Referring to various Acts and Rules such as Legal Metrology Rules , 2011, Insecticides Act, 1968, Insecticide Rule 1971, the Division Bench of Justice A.S.Chandurkar and Justice M.S. Jawalkar partly allowed the writ petition instituted by the petitioner against the impugned communication of the Inspector of Legal Metrology whereby the petitioner- company was alleged of violating the provisions of the Act of 2009 and the Rules of 2011 in the matter of packaging of its products.

The facts necessary for adjudication of the present writ petition were that the petitioner- company was involved in the business of manufacturing and marketing of crop protection products as well as agro chemicals and it was also required to follow the provisions of the Act of 2009 as well as the Legal Metrology Rules , 2011.  After sometime, Inspector of Legal Metrology seized certain packed products of the Company and issued a memorandum wherein it was stated that there was violation of the provisions of the Act, 2009 and the Rules 2011 in the matter of packaging of its products. 

As against this communication, the prime contention of the company was that the Act of 1968 being a special act with respect to insecticides would have an overriding effect over the Act of 2009, which was in the nature of general law. However, the Inspector of Legal Metrology refused to accept the stand of the company. Aggrieved by the same, the company assailed this communication by way of present writ petition.  

The Court observed that in the matter of regulating the sale, distribution and use of insecticides of the Act, 1968 was a special law. Further with respect to the Act of 2009, the Court held that the Act of 2009 is an Act of general nature which seeks to enforce standards of weight and measures especially with respect to pre- packaged commodities. Further the Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 as well as the Standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act, 1985 were mentioned in order to state that it had become imperative to combine the provisions of the said Acts to get rid of the anomalies and make the provisions simple, the Court noted. 

Next, the Court took into consideration the contention of the company pertaining to the overriding effect of the special law over the general law of 2009 and the Rules of 2011 in the matter of enforcement of standards of weights and measures.  The Court further noted that the company relied upon the maxim generalia specialibus non derogant which means general law yields to special law if they operate in the same field on the same subject. In order to consider the applicability of the aforesaid principle the Court referred to the judmgents in Reserve Bank of India Vs. Peerless General Finance and Investment Co. Ltd  and Gobind Sugar Mills Ltd. Vs. State of Bihar and Ors.

Considering the principles of harmonious construction the Bench said, “ Since the Act of 2009 vide Section 3 seeks to give overriding effect to the provisions of that Act over any other inconsistent provision contained in any other enactment or in any instrument having effect by virtue of such other enactment, it is clear that if a matter covered by the Act of 1968 is also found to be covered by the Act of 2009, the provisions of the Act of 2009 would have overriding effect over the Act of 1968. But, if a matter has been specifically dealt with by the Act of 1968 or the Rules of 1971 in the context of packaging and labelling of insecticides those provisions would prevail over the general provisions under the Act of 2009 or the Rules of 2011”

Thus, in light of the aforesaid observations, the Court concluded by observing that with respect to the first violation in the memorandum in question, the same shall be considered only in respect of declaration of MRP in the context of the size of numerals.With respect to the last violation, the Court stated the Inspector of Legal Metrology was given the liberty to furnish the details of any violation of the provisions of Rule 9 (1) of the Rules of 2011 thereby specifying as to which declaration was not made in accordance with that Rule.  Hence, the petition was partly allowed. 

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