Offences Related to Weight and Measures under IPC

Offences Related to Weight and Measures Law Insider

 

By Shivangi Mathur

Published on: April 21, 2022 at 11:22 IST

Introduction

The terms ‘weights’ and ‘measurements’ have not been defined under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 but Section 2 of the Standard of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 has defined “weighing or measuring equipment” as the equipment that is used for measurement in terms of length, area, volume, capacity, weight or number, irrespective of whether the equipment has been constructed to give an indication of the measurements made or any other information that is determined with reference to that measurement.

Section XIII of the Indian Penal Code deals with the offences relating to weights and measures.

What are the offences relating to weights and measures?

The term “Weights and measures” refer to the uniform standards that are ascribed to the quantity, capacity, volume, or dimensions of anything. The need for these standards arises for many reasons:

  • Having a standardised measurement for purposes of science, commerce and industry transactions.
  • To provide protection to the aggrieved party when they are deceived by another person to believe that a particular weight or measure is authentic when in reality it is false.

Section 264-267 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines 4 types of offences that relate to weights and measures. They are:

  • Fraudulent use of false instruments for weighing (Section 264)
  • Fraudulent use of false weight or measure (Section 265)
  • Being in possession of false weight or measure (Section 266)
  • Making or selling false weight or measure (Section 267)

Section 25 of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as IPC) defines states that a person is said to do something fraudulently when he does that thing with the intent to defraud but not otherwise.

The ingredients of each of the offences are as follows:

Fraudulent use of false instruments for weighing

  • Fraudulent use
  • Of any instruments for weighing
  • Which the person knows to be false

Fraudulent use of false weight or measure

  • Fraudulent use
  • Of any false weight or false measure of length or capacity OR
  • Use of any weight or any measure of length or capacity as a different weight or measure from what it is

Being in possession of false weight or measure

  • Possession
  • Of any instrument for weighing, or of any weight, or of any measure of length or capacity
  • Which the person knows to be false

Making or selling false weight or measure

  • Making, selling or disposal
  • Of any instrument for weighing, or any weight, or any measure of length or capacity
  • Which the person knows to be false
  • In order that the same may be used as true, or knowing that the same is likely to be used as true

An injury that is caused dishonestly usually includes injury which is only pecuniary in nature. However, an injury that is caused fraudulently includes injury which is not only pecuniary but non-pecuniary in nature, i.e., it includes injury caused to the body, mind, reputation and property.

Possession does not necessarily imply ownership of the weight and measurements. Thus, it is not necessary to prove the ownership of the instrument for weighing, or any weight, or any measure of length or capacity, the possession alone is sufficient.

Section 24 of the Standard of Weights and Measures Act, 1976[1] states that if any weighing or measuring equipment is found in the possession of any person carrying on a trade or on any premises which are used for trade that person or, the occupier of those premises shall be deemed to have that equipment in his possession for use for trade.

What are the punishments for the offences contained under Sections 264-267 of IPC?

Cognizable offences are those in which the police officer can without a warrant, arrest the convict and start an investigation without the permission of the court. A non-cognizable on the hand refers to those in which the police cannot arrest the accused without a warrant nor can they initiate an investigation without the permission of the court.

Bailable offences refer to those which are provided for as bailable under the First Schedule or those which are made bailable by any other law for the time being in force. Non-bailable refers to all the offences that are not considered bailable. Under bailable offences, bail is claimed as a Matter of Right while under non-bailable offences it is claimed as a Matter of Discretion.

Fraudulent use of false instruments for weighing (Section 264)

The classification of this offence is non-cognizable and bailable. A case under this Section can be tried by any Magistrate. Under this Section a person may be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Fraudulent use of false weight or measure (Section 265)

The classification of this offence is non-cognizable and bailable. A case under this Section can be tried by any Magistrate. Under this Section a person may be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Being in possession of false weight or measure (Section 266)

The classification of this offence is non-cognizable and bailable. A case under this Section can be tried by any Magistrate. Under this Section a person may be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Making or selling false weight or measure (Section 267)

The classification of this offence is cognizable and non-bailable bailable. A case under this Section can be tried by any Magistrate. Under this Section a person may be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Thus, while the punishment for all the offences under Section 2464-267) is the same, the classification of the offences contained under Section 264-266 is that of being non-cognizable and bailable but the offence under Section 267 is classified as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

In addition to criminal liability under the IPC, the civil remedy is also provided under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 in the form of compensation. Sub-clause 47 of Section 2 of the aforementioned Act states that “unfair trade practice” refers to any trade practice, which for the purposes of selling, using or supplying any goods or provisions of any service adopts any unfair method or deceptive practice which includes falsely representing that the goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, quantity, grade, composition, style or model.

Section 22(3) of the Standard of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 also provides that in case of the breach of any of the provisions of the Act, the offender will be liable to a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars and in default of payment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Important case Laws

Emperor vs Kanayalal Mohanlal Gujar[2]

In this case, it was held, that intention is an essential ingredient of the offence committed under Section 264. It requires two things: (1) fraudulent use of any false instrument for weighing, and (2) knowledge that it is false. The word ‘false’ in this and the following sections means different from the instrument, weight, or measure, which the offender and the person defrauded have fixed upon, expressly or by implication, with reference to their mutual dealings.

Where the seller and purchaser had agreed upon using a particular measure for a commodity sold, it was held that even though the measure was not as per the standardised measures, it was not ‘false’ and there was no fraudulent intention in this case.

Hamirmal Case[3]

The mere possession of false weights or measures will not in itself raise any strong presumption of fraud. It is necessary to show that the accused knew the scales to be false and intended to use them fraudulently.

Bansidhar vs the State of Rajasthan[4]

In this case, the applicant was in possession of two weights, and one set of weights was less in weight than the standardised weight. The court in this case held that the applicant was in possession of the weight with the intent to defraud. It was observed that he was intentionally deceiving his customers which was inferred from the fact the false weights were found hidden beneath a bag on which the accused had been sitting.

The Court observed that the accused was in the possession of the false weights, knowing that they are false and with the intention to use them to defraud others.

Conclusion

The Standard of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 provides for the regulation of trade and commerce that relate to weights and measures along with inspections to prevent the use of fraudulent practices. The Legal Metrology Act, 2009 also provides for enforcement of standards of weights and measures and other goods which are sold or distributed by weight, measure or number.

Though this topic has been dealt with under many Statutes, the IPC provides for a criminal liability that aims to ensure that the goods should be accurately weighed and sold without fraudulent practice.

References

  1. The Indian Penal Code, 1860
  2. Standard of Weights and Measures Act, 1976
  3. Ratanlal and Dhirajlal. The Indian Penal Code, 36th Edition

Endnotes

  1. Standard of Weights and Measures Act, 1976, s.24
  2. Emperor vs Kanayalal Mohanlal Gujar, (1939) 41 Bom LR 977 .
  3. Hamirmal, (1890) Unrep Cr C 514.
  4. Bansidhar vs the State of Rajasthan, AIR 1959 Raj 191

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