In its Endeavour to ensure availability of essential commodities to the consumers and to protect them from exploitation by unscrupulous traders, the Government of India has armed itself with the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.
The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 was enacted to ensure the easy availability of essential commodities to consumers and to protect them from exploitation by unscrupulous traders. The Act provides for the regulation and control of production, distribution and pricing of commodities which are declared as essential for maintaining or increasing supplies or for securing their equitable distribution and availability at fair prices. Exercising powers under the Act, various Ministries / Departments of the Central Government and under the delegated powers, the State Governments / UT Administrations have issued orders for regulating production, distribution, pricing and other aspects of trading in respect of the commodities declared as essential. The enforcement / implementation of the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 lies with the State Governments and UT Administrations. At present the number of essential commodities has been brought down to 7.
The Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980 is being implemented by the State Governments / UT Administrations for the prevention of unethical trade practices like hoarding and black-marketing etc. The Act empowers the Central and State Governments to detain persons whose activities are found to be prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies of commodities essential to the community. Detentions are made by the States / UTs in selective cases to prevent hoarding and black-marketing of the essential commodities. Under the provisions of this Act, the State Governments are required to report the facts together with the grounds of detention and other particulars relating to it, to the Central Government within seven days of approval of the State Government.