October 23, 2020 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: On 20 October 2020, Punjab state assembly called Vidhan Sabha passed four bills in its attempt to ‘counter’ three new agricultural laws passed by Union Government of India. The bills were introduced and passed on Tuesday (20 Oct.) during second day of special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
⊕ COPY OF THE PUNJAB ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES (SPECIAL PROVISIONS AND STATE AMENDMENT) BILL, 2020:–
Preamble added to the draft of Bill (copy available with Sikh Siyasat News) begins with a note that this bill is to protect consumers from hoarding and black marketing of agricultural produce, to secure and protect the interests and livelihood of farmers and farm labourers as also all others engaged in agriculture and related activities.
Next seven paragraphs, which are in form of introduction to the Bill, presents the context and purpose of the Bill.
It is said that “the Parliament has passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 (hereinafter referred as the “Central Act”)” and “agriculture, agricultural markets and land is the primary legislative domain of the State falling under Entries 14, 18 and 28 of List-II of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India; and ‘production, supply and distribution of goods’ is also a State Subject under Entry 27 of List-II read-with, Entry 33 of List-III of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India”.
It further says: “the onus lies upon the State Government to protect consumers from hoarding and black-marketing of agricultural produce including vegetables, fruits etc. and also to take action against those indulging in such activities but the Central Acts do not allow the State Government from acting against and penalising hoarders and black marketeers as also seeks to give unlimited power of stocking Essential Commodities and trading in them to the peril of agricultural community and consumers permitting trafficking in enhanced prices and rapacious profiteering”.
It adds: “the Legislative Assembly of Punjab is enacting the present Act to protect the interests of consumers, farmers, farm labourers, those engaged in ancillary and incidental activities relating to production, sale and marketing of agricultural produce”.
This Bill tends to add state amendments to Essential Commodities Act, 1955. It provides under section 4 that for the State of Punjab, the State shall also have the power to order, provide for regulating or prohibiting the production, supply, distribution, imposing stock limits under extraordinary circumstances, which may include famine, price rise, natural calamity or any other situation.
Section 5 of the Bill reads:
(1) Notwithstanding any judgement, decree, or order of any court or any other instrument, or any other law inconsistent therewith, status quo as on 4th June, 2020 shall be maintained qua the provisions of the Punjab Agriculture Produce Markets Act 1961.
(2) All notices issued by the Central Government or any authority on its behalf under provisions of the Central Acts, shall deemed to have been suspended and no punitive action shall be taken against any person for violating the provisions of the Central Acts mentioned in sub-section (1).
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