Provisions of Essential Commodities Act of 1955-
- It is a law that prohibits hoarding and black marketing of essential commodities.
- If the Central government finds that the price of a certain commodity is shooting up due to short supply, it orders the State Governments and Union Territories to fix the stock-holding limit of that commodity for a fixed period.
- The Act gives powers to the central government to add or remove a commodity in the “Schedule.”
- The Centre, if it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so in public interest, can notify an item as essential, in consultation with state governments.
- At present, the “Schedule” contains 9 commodities — drugs; fertilisers, whether inorganic, organic or mixed; foodstuffs, including edible oils; hank yarn made wholly from cotton; petroleum and petroleum products; raw jute and jute textiles; seeds of food-crops and seeds of fruits and vegetables, seeds of cattle fodder, jute seed, cotton seed; face masks; and hand sanitisers.
- Whoever sells this item, be it a wholesaler, a retailer or an importer, is prevented from stocking more than a certain quantity so that black marketing does not occur and price does not rise.
- There is no specific definition of essential commodities in The EC Act.
- Section 2(A) of the act states that an “essential commodity” means a commodity specified in the “Schedule” of this Act.
- The States or Union Territories may take action against the offenders under the Essential Commodities Act,1955 and Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, (PBMMSEC Act), 1980.
- An offender under the Essential Commodities Act,1955 may be punished with imprisonment up to 7 years or fine or both and under the PBMMSEC Act, he can be detained for a maximum of 6 months.
- The 2015 amendment to the act provides a mechanism for the “regulation” of agricultural foodstuffs, namely cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, potato, and supplies under extraordinary circumstances, which include extraordinary price rise, war, famine, and natural calamity of a severe nature.
Objectives of the Act, 1955-
- Uninterrupted supply of essential commodities in the country.
- The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution tries to keep the price of essential commodities stable.
- The Government fixes the maximum retail price for such goods.
- Preventing unnecessary storage of essential commodities
- Stop black marketing of essential commodities