Expert Speak India Matters
Published on Aug 02, 2018
As companies and producers began to embrace and communicate their adherence to the “ISI Mark” as a virtue, the mark and the quality it certified soon became a household name. But there remained a gap in the creation of standards.
70 Policies — Indian Standards Institution (Certification Marks) Act, 1952 The following is a chapter from the book 70 Policies that Shaped India: 1947 to 2017, Independence to $2.5 Trillion. Find the book here.

The Indian Standards Institution (ISI) was established on 6 January 1947 to operate the Certification Marks scheme and facilitate consumer protection. ISI was based on a 3 September 1946 memorandum of the Department of Industries and Supplies, <1> written by Institution of Engineers (India). This preceded the 14 October 1946 meeting of 25 countries in London, of which India was a founding member and the only “developing” country, <2> and which decided to create an international organisation with the objective of facilitating international coordination and unification of industrial standards, through the creation of International Organisation for Standardisation. This was legitimised by law on 21 March 1952, with Parliament enacting the Indian Standards Institution (Certification Marks) Act <3> to certify standards. As companies and producers began to embrace and communicate their adherence to the “ISI Mark” as a virtue, the mark and the quality it certified soon became a household name. But there remained a gap in the creation of standards. What could have been an amendment through the addition of standards setting to the law was instead legislated through the enactment of another law, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act <4> on 23 December 1986, which led to the creation of the BIS <5> on 1 April 1987 for the “harmonious development of the activities of standardisation, marking and quality certification” to provide reliable quality goods and minimise health hazards through standardisation, certification and testing. The BIS took over all the functions of ISI and began formulating standards, certifying products, registering trademarks and granting patents. One of the shortcoming of the law was the lack of specific provisions for certifying precious metals and jewellery. The BIS Act of 1986 focused only on producers, while in the case of gold, for instance, the seller needed to be certified as well. This needed an enabling provision. As a result, along with other changes, the BIS Act of 1986 was repealed and on 21 March 2016, and the BIS Act of 2016 <6> came into force. The new law provides for compensating consumers if a product does not confirm to standards. It also gives flexibility to companies to conform to standards through selfdeclaration, which, if violated, attract punishments in the form of fines and imprisonment of up to two years. <7>

<1> Bureau of Indian Standards, “Origin of BIS,” accessed 3 January 2018.

<2> Raymond Frontard, “Standards-related Activities: The global view,” Friendship Among Equals: Recollections from ISO’s first 50 years, ISO Central Secretariat, 1997, 51, accessed 3 January 2018.

<3> Indian Standards Institution (Certification Marks) Act, 1952, ‘Acts of Parliament 1952’, 1952, 171–77, accessed 3 January 2018.

<4> Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, 23 December 1986.

<5> Bureau of Indian Standards, accessed 3 January 2018.

<6> The Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016, Gazette of India, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, 21 March 2016, accessed 3 January 2018.

<7> Ibid., Chapter IV, Section 29(3).

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