ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Weak Measure

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill has been passed with one amendment, exempting bona fide producers from its confiscatory provisions. The Bill is to replace the ordinance which was hurriedly issued in July to keep alive the powers which might have lapsed with the dismantling of DIR. 

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill has been passed with one amendment, exempting bona fide producers from its confiscatory provisions. The Bill is to replace the ordinance which was hurriedly issued in July to keep alive the powers which might have lapsed with the dismantling of DIR. The purpose of the Bill, as of the earlier ordinance, is to control prices of essential commodities. The list of essential commodities comprises 15 items ranging from food grains, edible oils and oilseeds to dry battery cells and soda ash. Control is to be exercised by the Government reserving the right to enter the market if it feels that prices are soaring unreasonably high and to procure the commodities at prices fixed by a statutorily specified procedure.

Two questions arise here. One is whether the specified procedure for fixing the procurement price is open to too wide an interpretation, and therefore to abuse. Another is whether the Bill and the powers it reserves for the authorities would satisfactorily achieve the general objective of controlling prices of essential commodities.

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