The jewellers say it is unreasonable to restrict making of gold jewels to 14,18 and 22 karat only
The Madras High Court has directed the Centre to respond by July 27 to a writ petition filed by the Chennai Jewellers Association (CJA) challenging the Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery and Gold Artefacts Order, 2020.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy permitted Central government panel counsel V.T. Balaji to take notices on behalf of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
The petition had been filed jointly by CJA and its member M. Jahufar challenging the 2020 order as well as certain provisions of the Bureau of Indian Standards (Hallmarking) Regulations of 2018.
According to a common affidavit filed by Uday Vummidi, president of CJA, gold as a metal does not tarnish, rust or corrode. Due to such unique qualities and lustre, gold was considered a most important and valuable metal in jewellery making. Since pure gold would be too soft to make jewels for everyday wear, it gets alloyed with a mixture of metals such as silver, copper, platinum, palladium and zinc to give it strength and durability. The content of gold in a jewel is measured in karats. The higher the karat, the greater the gold content and the price of the jewel. Karats represent how many parts, by weight, of pure gold are present in the 24 parts of the alloy.
Jewellers across the country had been making 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 karat jewellery. The reason was that many consumers insist on purchasing a particular carat of gold jewel due to cultural and religious reasons. For example, people in south Tamil Nadu prefer to make Thalis only with 20 or 21 karat gold, he said.
When things stood thus, the 2020 Order had restricted making of gold jewellery only in 14, 18 or 22 karats. Such restrictions were arbitrary, unreasonable and against the jewellers’ right to carry on their business, Mr. Vummidi claimed. He said the question of consumers being cheated or hoodwinked would not arise at all if they, by choice, want to purchase hallmarked gold jewellery of a particular karat.
Further making it clear that the jewellers were not against the Centre’s decision that every jeweller should be registered with BIS and that every jewel should be hallmarked, the association said the only problem was that the infrastructure available in the country for hallmarking every piece of jewel was woefully inadequate.
The association claimed that around five lakh jewellers were available in the country and the numbers included about 25,000 in Tamil Nadu. It said that 11 States and 488 districts in the country had no hallmarking centres and jewellers over there would be forced to travel to other centres.