Jewellers To Go On Strike On 23rd August To Protest Against Hallmarking Unique ID

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Mumbai, 20th August 2021: Jewellers across India will go on a token strike on Monday, 23rd August 2021, responding to the call of National Task Force on Hallmarking to protest against the arbitrarily implemented mandatory hallmarking process in the country by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

The National Task force was formed by 350 Associations / Federations representing all four zones of the entire Gems & Jewellery Industry.  The objective of this committee is to ensure a smooth implementation of mandatory hallmarking across the country.

There have been two committees formed and almost 10 meetings held but no relief has yet been offered in writing by BIS or MoCA. BIS from being a standards and quality assurance institution is playing the role of a revenue department with gems and jewellery industry becoming a very soft target for them. Jewellers have waited for almost 2 months with complications piling up and impractical laws resulting in industry collapse.

Mr. Ashok Minawala, Member National Task Force on Hallmarking, Past Chairman – All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council said, “We have always welcomed Hallmarking as it has built our businesses and confidence of our customers, but we cannot accept the new HUID (Hallmarking Unique ID) as it has nothing to do with the purity of gold. The new HUID is a 6-digit code, which BIS feels will improve gold purity, but BIS cannot prove even one element of how it can improve the purity, apart from it being just a tracking mechanism. The consumer wants perfect quality of gold jewellery which we are happy to deliver. The new process has been made a ‘destructive process’ that damages our jewellery being hallmarked. The element of cancellation of registration, penal provisions, search & seizure will ultimately bring ‘Inspector Raaj’ in the industry. The one-day token strike is our peaceful protest against arbitrary implementation of HUID, which is impractical and unimplementable. HUID is against customer interest and against the principle of ease of doing business. HUID is cumbersome and shall lead to harassment for customers. It is also illegal as per laws of land as this process interferes with data privacy and business secrecy of individual citizens. Jewellers feel, by registering with BIS, they have signed their death warrant in terms of losses and loss of livelihood.”

Mr Dinesh Jain, Member National Task Force on Hallmarking,  Director GJC & GJSCI, said, “Hallmarking has been made mandatory in 256 districts from 16th June 2021 and it is estimated that yearly almost 10-12 crore pieces are manufactured in India. In addition, existing stock of almost 6 – 7 crore. pieces are yet to be hallmarked. This takes the total count of pieces to be hallmarked in a year to almost 16 – 18 cr. pieces. Current speed/capacity of hallmarking centres is about 2 lac pieces/ day, at this speed it will take almost 800 – 900 days or equivalent to 3 – 4 years to mark this

years’ production. Currently the new marking system i.e., HUID is taking almost 5 to 10 days to hallmark the products, resulting into complete bottleneck and the industry is on standstill. Also, to add, HUID is not fool proof and there have been lots of issues such as double HUID on same piece, same HUID on multiple jewellery etc. and these are already brought to notice of BIS. Further, the higher turnaround period of a manufacturer will result into loss of employment and poor ROI, resulting into increasing cost of jewellery to the consumers. Tonnes of jewellery is lying idle due to delays in the existing hallmarking process and BIS is simply adding fire to our anxiety instead of resolving issues.”

Mr Prakash Kagrecha, Member National Task Force on Hallmarking, President Mumbai Wholesale Gold Jewellery Association, said, “Jewellers have welcomed the hallmarking and the growth in registration has gone to almost 250% from 34,000 to 88000 jewellers, which shows the jewellers commitment towards the consumers. However, the Hallmarking centres have been reduced, as 83 centres has been either suspended or cancelled. The new Hallmarking processes (HUID) involves cutting, melting, and scraping of jewellery, which is intended to sell. The entire process of hallmarking is defeated when a jewellery has been damaged. Further, this process eliminates the instant consumer friendly services, which is the biggest USP of this sector. Removal of jeweller’s name, from the jewellery will be detrimental to the interest of consumers when they wish to sell or exchange for want of identity of jeweller.”

Hallmarking should be based on point of sale as proposed by jewellers, while all other applications of storage, display, transit, exhibit to sale, manufacture etc. except sell be removed from the BIS Act and Regulation.

Not only the consumers are at the receiving end, the 1 crore dependents on the G&J Industry’s livelihood will be at stake due to unimplementable compliances in the new marking process of hallmarking (HUID).

The penal & criminal consequences on the jeweller, who has not manufactured or hallmarked the jewellery and sold it like a trader, will eventually result into winding up of businesses in fear of ‘Inspector Raaj’ which has already begun. The draconian provisions of cancellation of registration for a civil offense is imposed on this trade, where just by a stroke of BIS officer, resulting into loss of livelihood of millions of employees, karigars and their dependents.

Indian jewellery is an art form, and they are not homogenous, therefore industry has recommended to increase the Standard. example, for 22kt – 916 to 918. This is the industry’s commitment to offer quality jewellery to the consumers.

Despite the jewellery Industry’s continuous demand to consider NITI Aayog’s report on Hallmarking to be a benchmark while framing the BIS Act, which has not been taken into consideration.