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The Essential Commodities Act 1955

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The Essential Commodities Act 1955
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Sunanda K. Chavan
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The Essential Commodities Act 1955 - October 28th, 2010

This is an Act to provide, in the interest of the general public, for the control of the production, supply and distribution of and trade on commerce in certain commodities. It extends to whole of India.
1. “Essential commodity” means –
• Cattle fodder, including oilcakes and other concentrates
• Coal including coke and other derivatives
• Component parts and accessories of automobiles
• Drugs
• Foodstuff, including edible oilseeds and oils
• Iron and steel, including manufactured products of iron and steel
• Paper, including newsprint, paperboard and straw board
• Petroleum and petroleum products
• Raw cotton, whether ginned or unginned, and cotton seed
• Raw jute
• Any other class of commodity which the central Government may, by notified order, declare to be an essential commodity

2. “Food-crops” include crops of sugarcane.

3. “Sugar” means –
• Any form of sugar containing more than ninety percent of sucrose, including sugar candy
• Khandsari sugar
• Sugar in process in vacuum, pan sugar factory or raw sugar produced there in
Tea is not foodstuff
In common parlance “food” is something that is eaten. In wider sense “food” may include not only solid substances but also a drink. Still the fact remains that the substance called “food” should possess the quality to maintain life and its growth, nutritive or nourishing value so as to enable the growth, repair or maintenance of the body. Tea does not have any nutritive value. Therefore, tea is not a “foodstuff”: S. Samuel, M. D. Harrisons Malayalam V. Union of India, AIR 2004 SC 218.
The word “oil” used in regard to foodstuff is edible oil and not oils like kerosene (Tulsi Modi v. State of Orissa).
To deal effectively with malpractices like blackmarketing, hoarding, profiteering and to arrest the unjustified rise in prices of essential commodities by providing for the preventive detention of persons likely to indulge in such practices. Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Bill was introduced in the Parliament.
The Ordinance recognized preventive detention as a necessary evil and accordingly sought to provide for various safeguards to avoid scope for possible abuse of powers.
An Act to provide for detention in certain cases for the purpose of prevention of blackmarketing and maintenance of supplies of commodities essential to the community and for matters connected therewith.

The Central Government feels that if it is necessary for maintaining or increasing supplies of any essential commodity or to secure equitable distribution, it may, by order, regulate or prohibit the production, supply or distribution of those essential items.

The order may provide:
1. Regulation by license, permits, production or manufacture of any essential commodity

2. For bringing under cultivation any waste or arable for growing specified food crops

3. For controlling the price

4. For prohibiting the withhold from sale of any essential commodity
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2003

This amendment empowers the Central Government to direct that no producer, importer or exporter shall sell or otherwise dispose of or deliver any kind of sugar or remove any kind of sugar from the bonded godowns of the factory where it is produced.
The word sugar includes plantation of white sugar, raw sugar and refined sugar whether indigenously produced or imported.

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