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Govt makes hallmarking gold compulsory

       To protect consumers from unscrupulous jewellers, the government on Wednesday approved a proposal making hallmarking of gold mandatory.

The hallmarking of gold, which is voluntary in nature at present, is a purity certification of the precious metal. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), under the Consumer Affairs Ministry, is the administrative authority of hallmarking.

The Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cleared the proposal by approving amendments to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act, 1986, which aims to expand the ambit of mandatory hallmarking to include more products, including gold, sources said.

The BIS (Amendment) Bill, will empower the government to bring in compulsory certification regime any article and/or process that it considers necessary from the point of view of health, safety, environment and prevention of deceptive practice, they said.

At present, about 77 items, including cement, mineral water and milk products, are certified through mandatory hallmarking under the BIS Act for conformity with expected quality levels.

The BIS hallmark, a mark of conformity widely accepted by the consumer, bestows the additional confidence to the consumer on the quality of products like gold jewellery.

Besides mandatory hallmarking, the amendments moved by the Consumer Affairs Ministry also seek to introduce registration of relevant standards as an alternative mechanism to the compulsory certification regime to facilitate growth of sunrise sectors like IT and biotechnology and protect consumers from spurious and substandard imports.

It also aims to strengthen the penal provision for better and effective compliance with the provision of BIS Act.

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