The Essential Commodities Act was introduced to ensure the delivery of certain commodities of products, the supply of which if hoarded or black-marketed would affect the normal life of people. This includes, foodstuff, fuel, drugs, etc.
Section 2(A) of the Act defines essential commodities as mentioned in the schedule. The Schedule includes:
- Foodstuffs (including edible oils and oilseeds, hank yarn made wholly from cotton)
- Petroleum and petroleum products
- Raw jute and jute textiles
- Seeds of food crops, fruits and vegetables, seeds of cattle fodder and jute seeds,
Section 3 bestows power to Central government to control production, supply, distribution, etc. of essential commodities in order to maintain or increase supplies or for ensuring equitable distribution or for ensuring availability of essential commodities at fair prices. The concerned authority can control by regulating licences, permits, by bringing waste arable land under cultivation, by controlling prices, by withholding sale of any essential commodity, by selling whole commodity to one buyer, etc.
Section 4 grants powers and impose duties upon the Central or State government or their officers to make orders under Section 3.
Section 6 describes the procedures around the confiscation of essential commodity, when found in violation of this Act, including
- Reporting of the seizure to, and production of the essential commodity in front of, the Collector of the district or the Presidency town of seizure
- Selling the seized commodity, if perishable, at controlled price or public auction
- Payout, to person from whom it is seized, from the sales proceeds
- Rights to appeal of any person aggrieved by an order of confiscation
Section 7 specifies a penalty of up to seven year and fine for offences violating the provisions of this Act. It also gives power to the Central Government to recover certain amounts as arrears of land revenue.
Section 9 provides a clause of an imprisonment for a term of up to five years, or, or both, to a person furnishing false information against an order made under section 3 or in any book, account, record, declaration, return or other document prepared by him.
Section 10 covers the law with respect to offences made by companies in violation of this Act. Section 12 covers the powers and duties of the courts to assign fine to any person convicted of contravening any order made under section 3.
Section 16 repeals the Essential Commodities Ordinance, 1955.