In the High Court of Delhi, a PIL has been filed by NGO Dignity Restoration & Grievance Settlement Association (Dignity) against Government of NCT of Delhi & Others through Advocate Shantha Devi Raman.
The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre and the AAP government to respond to the plea that no specifications have been set by the authorities to make certain quality as well as uniformity of the PNG and electricity meters under Legal Metrology Act.
A Bench comprising of Hon’ble Chief Justice D. N. Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar has also issued notice to Delhi Jal Board seeking their stand on the plea that their tenders violate the provisions of Legal Metrology Act.
The petitioner has contended that since no specifications were prescribed, power distribution companies (discoms) and Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL), which supplies piped gas in the city are unable to maintain standards which ultimately affect the safety and interest of common man.
The Dignity Restoration and Grievance Settlement Association have claimed that DJB had issued an expression of interest (EoI) relating to the empanelment of water meter manufacturers in violation of the Act and rules made under it.
It has been pleaded that the EoI has violated the Act as it doesn’t specify that the applicants looking for empanelment must have a license from Controller Legal Metrology to manufacture as well as sell water meters.
Dignity has sought for enforcement of Legal Metrology Act and Rules as well as a direction to the authorities to recommend and notify the specifications for power and piped gas meters. It has also sought for a direction to DJB to only empanel licensed manufacturers for the supply of water meters. The act of DJB in calling for EOI without the precondition that the applicants must be licensed holders is completely contrary to the intention of the Statute which has been enacted to improve and make certain supply of good quality products for the common public.
As per the law, the legislature which has enacted Legal Metrology Act, 2009 (referred to as “Act”) with the purpose to keep the regulations pragmatic for protecting the interest of consumers as well as keeping the industry free from undue interference. The Act was brought into effect on January 13, 2010. Furthermore, this Act became essential so as to review the earlier enactments, towards making them simple, eliminate outdated regulations, make certain accountability as well as bring transparency.
Section 23 of the Act states that every manufacturer, repairer or seller must hold a license which shall be issued by the Controller under sub-section 2 of Section 23 towards carrying out the manufacture, repair or sale of any weight or measuring device. While Section 24 of the Act furthermore states that the process for verification of the weight and measure under orders of the Controller selected by the State Government in a testing lab setup through the Central Government. Also, the verification must be mandatorily conducted before the usage of the held weight or measure through the manufacturer/seller/repairer.
Every different model of a measuring and weighing instrument, which falls under the Legal Metrology purview, should ensure that every model gets approved from the Central Legal Metrology Department. A grant of certificate of approval as well as report through a verified and certified referral laboratory should also be submitted together with the application for license which shall be issued by the Controller under Section 23 of the Act.
Further, under the provisions of State Legal Metrology (Enforcement) Rules, 2011, each approved weighing and measuring instrument must be stamped either through the State Legal Metrology Officer or respective District Legal Metrology Inspectors. As per the Act, the concerned officer should test and verify an instrument in the direction of meeting the established standards. On completion of the verification as well as stamping procedure, the concerned officer or the Controller Legal Metrology shall issue a certificate of verification according to Schedule VIII of the Rules.
It is relevant to state that there are no specifications advised under the Act for electricity and Piped Natural Gas (PNG) meters till now regardless of the Act which had come into effect in January 2010. Considering that the objective of the Act is to make certain uniformity and quality is in jeopardy. Thus, all the power distribution companies, as well as IGL, are not able to maintain the standards which eventually affect the safety and interest of common man.
The respondent no. 2, Delhi Jal Board, has on November 6, 2018, called for 3rd Expression of Interest relating to the empanelment of manufactures of water meters. The empanelment procedure has not yet been concluded in spite of the period given in the EOI had expired. The said EOI was issued in utter violation of the provisions of the ACT and Rules that it doesn’t state that the applicants must have license to manufacture or sell the water meters.
Through this plea, the petitioner wanted to bring to the notice of the Court, the gaps in the effective implementation of the provisions of the Act.
By: Shantha Raman