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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

No coercive action till June 14: Bombay HC directs Centre to decide on jewellers’ plea over hallmarking gold

The jewellers argued that with the new regulation, they would not be able to sell high purity ornaments above 22 carat including traditional jewellery, therefore, “cultural heritage” will be “wiped out”.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
May 9, 2021 7:34:47 pm
No coercive action till June 14: Bombay HC directs Centre to decide on jewellers' plea over hallmarking goldGold hallmarking is a purity certification and is voluntary at present. (Representational Image)

The Bombay High Court recently directed the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to consider and decide by May 15 on a representation made by an organisation of jewellers from Pune challenging an order dated January 15, which mandated compulsory hallmarking and prohibited selling and stamping of higher purity (more than 22 carat) hallmarking of gold ornaments.

The bench also said that in case the decision of the Centre on the representation is adverse to the petitioners, they are at liberty to approach the vacation court.

On April 29, a division bench of Justice K K Tated and Nitin R Borkar at the principal seat in Mumbai was hearing a plea filed by Pune Saraf Association, through senior advocate Anil V Anturkar and advocate Shubham H Misar, seeking to set aside and quash the January 15 order.

According to the notification, jewellers can sell only hallmarked jewellery and artifacts made of 14, 18 and 22 carat gold from June 2021 and violations will attract penalty and imprisonment of one year. Gold hallmarking is a purity certification and is voluntary at present.

Jewellers got a year’s time to register with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and implement mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery to ensure purity of the precious metal. However, the time was extended to June 2021 in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The jewellers argued that with the new regulation, they would not be able to sell high purity ornaments above 22 carat including traditional jewellery, therefore, “cultural heritage” will be “wiped out”.

It was further submitted that out of 36 districts in Maharashtra, 14 districts did not have any assaying and hallmarking centres, causing problems for local jewellers.

Meanwhile, the Nagpur bench of the HC led by Justice Sunil B Shukre on Friday directed the Centre not to take coercive action under BIS Act against any jeweller till the next date of hearing, for not hallmarking their jewellery before June 1.

The All India Gems & Jewellery Domestic Council had approached the Nagpur bench through senior advocate Rohan Shah, contending that the new regulation, which came into force from June 1, was likely to result in “great hardships” to nearly 5 lakh jewellers in India.

Seeking responses from the Centre, the principal seat in Mumbai and Nagpur bench of the HC posted hearings on respective pleas to June 14.

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