Garments retailer Fabindia may soon have to battle out in court the use of the "Khadi" label in its garments, according to media reports.
Last week, the Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC), which falls under the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, sent a legal notice to the company alleging the wrongful use of "Khadi" in its products.
What's so wrong about using Khadi?
KVIC, which certifies Khadi, contends that Fabindia isn't authorised to sell it products under the 'Khadi' label, which is a registered brand name of KVIC, and by doing so the former was indulging in an "unfair trade practice" by attaching the label without certification. It had reportedly asked Fabindia to stop using Khadi and remove any display banners from its stores after it found that certain Fabindia 'ready-made' garments being sold under 'Fab India Cotton' were also carrying the Khadi label on their price tags.
KVIC says Fabindia was declined a Khaadi certificate as it had not stuck to certain process formalities that would have allowed it to carry the label.
What is Khadi?
Khadi is a 100 per cent hand-spun and handwoven fabric that was made popular by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom struggle with his iconic use of the Charkha.
However, the Khadi fabric and products are now heavily regulated by the government through KVIC, which prohibits the sale of Khadi unless certified in a bid to protect local artisans as well as educate consumers on the authenticity of the fabric.
However, several small Khadi stores engage in the misleading practice of selling Khadi cloth that is not made on handlooms, Ravi Kiran, founder of Metaphor Racha, which sells khadi from villages in Karnataka, told Scroll.
What has been Fabindia's response?
As of Feb 20, Fabindia has begun removing the products carrying 'Khadi' from its stores. Sources told PTI that Fabindia CEO Viney Singh has also replied to KVIC's notice, and is in complying with all its directives. The organisation is attempting to meet with KVIC in an effort to resolve the issue.
However, KVIC Chairman V K Saxena has pointed to previous communications and meetings with Fabindia officials dating back to August 2016, saying the company had assured KVIC of its consent to conditions, but hadn't sent any response.
"Since two months have passed and KVIC has not yet received any response from your end, it is presumed that you are not interested to obtain 'Khadi' mark certificate for sales and promotion of Khadi products, PTI reported Saxena as saying.
With inputs from PTI