Jewellers in the country to go on token strike to protest mandatory Hallmarking Unique ID (HUID) on jewellery articles on August 23.

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Surat/Mumbai: Jewellers across the country will go on a token strike, responding to the call given by the National Task Force on hallmarking, to protest against the arbitrary implementation of Hallmarking Unique ID (HUID) of jewellery by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on August 23.

The decision regarding the one-day token strike was taken by the National Task Force, which was formed by the 350 associations and federations representing all the four zones of the entire gems and jewlelery industry in the country. The objective of the task force is to ensure a smooth implementation of mandatory hallmarking across the country.

Jewellers said the BIS has not offered any relief to the gems and jewellery industry, even though the two committees have attended almost 10 meetings. BIS, being the institution of standards and quality assurance, is indulging in the role of the revenue department with the gems and jewellery industry by making things complex and impractical, resulting in the total collapse.

Ashok Minawala, member of National Task Force on Hallmarking and former chairman of the All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GHC) told TBT, “  “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.”

According to Minawala, 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 the perfect quality of gold jewellery which the jewellers are happy to deliver. The new process has been made a ‘destructive process that damages the jewellery being hallmarked.

Moreover, the element of cancellation of registration, penal provisions, search & seizure will only encourage the ‘Inspector Raaj’ in the industry. The one-day token strike will be a peaceful protest against the arbitrary implementation of HUID, which is impractical and unimplementable, said Minawala.

“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 the land as this process interferes with the 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.” Minawala added.

Dinesh Jain, Member National Task Force on Hallmarking and director of GJC and GJSCI said, “Hallmarking has been made mandatory in 256 districts from June 16, 2021. It is an estimation that about 10-12 crore jewellery pieces are manufactured in India per annum. In addition, the existing stock of almost 6 – 7 crore pieces is yet to be hallmarked. This takes the total count of pieces to be hallmarked in a year to almost 16 – 18 crore pieces. Interestingly, the capacity of hallmarking centers is about 2 lakh pieces per day. At this speed, it will take almost four years to hallmark such a huge quantity of jewellery pieces”

Currently the new marking system i.e., HUID is taking almost 5 to 10 days to hallmark the products, resulting in the complete bottleneck and the industry is on standstill.

Also, to add, HUID is not foolproof and there have been lots of issues such as double HUID on the 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 in loss of employment and poor ROI, resulting in increased 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, said Jain.

Prakash Kagrecha, member of 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 centers have been reduced, as 83 centers have been either suspended or canceled. The new Hallmarking process (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 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, but the one crore dependents on the G&J Industry’s livelihood will also be at stake due to unimplementable compliances in the new marking process of hallmarking (HUID).

Jewellery industry leaders said the penal and criminal consequences on the jeweller, who has not manufactured or hallmarked the jewellery and sold it like a trader, will eventually result in winding up of businesses in fear of ‘Inspector Raaj’ which has already begun.

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.