New Delhi: Holding hoarders responsible for the recent spurt in food prices, the government plans to amend the Essential Commodities Act to make hoarding a non-bailable offence and setting up special courts to try them.
Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today told the Lok Sabha that besides proposing amendments to the Essential Commodities Act of 1955, the government is also planning to increase the period of detention under the Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Essential Commodities (PBMMSEC) Act of 1980.
The two laws are being amended as part of action plan to crack down on hoarders and black marketeers to cool prices.
"Amendments are proposed to make both the Acts more stringent and to strengthen enforcement," Paswan said.
The two Acts constitute the legislative framework to control hoarding and blackmarketing. They are implemented by the Centre and states exercising their respective powers.
In the EC Act, the minister said the amendments proposed primarily relate to "offences to be made non-bailable", "setting up of special courts" and "definition of foodstuffs".
"The amendments proposed envisage enabling provisions for state governments to set up special court for speedy trial of hoarders and black marketeers," he added.
In the PBMMSEC Act, the government proposes to make amendments to "increase in the limit of detention period" and "increase in the time limit for approval by State government and reporting to the Central government".
On July 4, the Centre had decided to amend the law to make hoarding a non-bailable offence to check food inflation. The decision was taken at a meeting of state food and consumer affairs ministers.
"There was a consensus that the Essential Commodities Act should be strengthened and more teeth should be provided to the law. The offences under the law should be made non- bailable," Paswan had said after the meeting.