New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government Wednesday enforced the mandatory gold hallmarking across the country in a phased manner, with some exemptions for the industry.
Hallmarking provides guarantee of purity of the valuable metal. Currently only 30 per cent of gold jewellery in India is hallmarked, voluntarily.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has been running a hallmarking scheme for gold jewellery for the past several years. The agency will now implement the latest move across the country in three phases.
Under the first phase which starts Wednesday, the mandatory hallmarking will be done across 256 districts, which have BIS-recognised assaying and hallmarking centres, for gold jewellery and artefacts in 14-, 18-, and 22-carats.
The rest of the districts and 20-, 23- and 24-carat items will be covered over the next two phases.
Moreover, in the second phase, assaying and hallmarking centres will be established in an estimated 246 districts — within 100 km radius of first-phase districts.
Addressing a press conference Wednesday, BIS Director General Pramod Kumar Tiwari said, “In the third phase areas such as North East, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, J&K which have zero hallmarking centers until now will be covered.”
He added, “To expand coverage and establishment of hallmarking centres across the country, we are working with financial as well as logistical solutions institutions. We are also thinking of allowing the pre-existing centers to open their extension or offsite branches into the districts which don’t have any centers so far.”
Tiwari said the coverage of 20-, 23- and 24- carats required certain changes, adding that these will be made and notified within the next 10-15 days.
Delays in launch
The Modi government has been trying to implement gold hallmarking scheme over the last couple of years, but there were delays.
In November 2019, the government announced that hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts would be made mandatory from 1 January 2021. But the deadline was extended for four months till 1 June. It was later extended to 15 June after the gold industry stakeholders sought more time in view of the pandemic.
On this delay, Tiwari said, “Gold hallmarking has been started initially in 256 districts which have assaying marking centres and will be further done phase-wise to give adequate time to the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of gold jewellery to adjust the system and also to fill in the gap of availability of hallmarking centers across the country.”
Now, to realise the policy, the Modi government has also made certain concessions.
Jewellers with an annual turnover of up to Rs 40 lakh will be exempted from mandatory gold hallmarking. The provision of penalty imposition for not following the rule till August 2021 has also been done away with.
Tiwari said, “The penalty waiver has been given so that jewellers can get the gold items in their stock hallmarked till August. Also, in the first three months, a surprise visit will be conducted every week to ensure enforcement of the proper hallmarking process.”
Items such as watches, fountain pens, and special types of jewellery like Kundan, Polki, and Jadau will also be exempted. The jewellers can also continue to buy back old gold jewellery without a hallmark from consumers.
According to the latest government data, the number of hallmarking centres has increased to 945 from 454 in the last five years. There are also 940 operational assaying and hallmarking centres. Out of this, 84 have been set up under government subsidy.
Speaking about the move, Ramesh Kalyanaraman, executive director, Kalyan Jewellers said, “We are looking at this as one of the landmark decisions that will change the way the industry has been functioning in India for a very long time. Mandatory hallmarking will standardise the purity of gold jewellery and take the industry a long way towards being more structured as well as further push the ongoing shift of business and customers from the unorganised to the organised jewellery segment.”
He added that the new regulatory framework will “ensure that customers get a fair value for their new jewellery purchases as well as their exchanged or collateralised old gold”.