Report No. 29
Some Provisions of Hindu Law Regarding High Prices and Adulteration
Provisions penalising adulteration and high prices were known to ancient Hindu law-givers. By way of example one may refer to certain texts of "Yajnavalkya1"-
1. Sen-Gupta Evolution of Ancient Indian Law, (1953), p. 316.
He who abstracts one-eighth share (of an article sold) by a (false) measure or balance, shall be fined two hundred (panas). Where a greater or lower (share is abstracted), a proportionately (higher or lower fine should be imposed).
He who adulterates with inferior (articles) vendible medicines, oils, salt, perfumes, corn, coarse sugar and the like, shall be made to pay sixteen panas.
When (by some operation) inferior earth, hide, gem, yarn, iron, wood, bark, or cloth is made (to appear to be of) a superior kind, the fine is eight-fold of the (commodity) to be sold.
He who pledges or sells a sealed casket (fraudulently) substituted (for a superior casket shown) or the counterfeit of a natural vessel shall be fined (in the following manner).
"(When the value of the thing palmed on the buyer, or a pledge is) less than a pana, the fine is fifty (panas) (when) a pana one hundred (panas), (when) two panas, two hundred (panas) when the value is higher, (the fine is) higher.
For those knowing whether (the price set by them) is higher or lower (than the maximum rates fixed by the kind) unite in fixing a price too heavy for Karus (workmen) and Siplins (artisans) the fine is the highest.
For those traders who conspire to obstruct (the sale of a commodity by demanding it), or selling it at an improper price, the highest fine is laid down.
The sale or purchase (of articles) should every day be made at the rates fixed by the king, the profit derived in this manner is declared (to be) propitious for traders.
A trader shall make five per cent as profit on commodities of the same country, and ten (per cent) on the foreign, if the purchase and sale take place immediately, (i.e. on the same day as that of the purchase).
The rates should be so fixed (by the king) as to be advantageous both to the buyer and the seller after adding to be (cost) value of the commodity, the expenses incurred."