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Report No. 29

142. History of legislation relating to control of essential commodities.-Another aspect to be emphasized is that these offences are essentially of a temporary and special character. The conditkins of scarcity prevailing in respect of each commodity are bound to differ from time to time and from place to place, and for that reason, their transfer to the Indian Penal Code would not lead to any practical benefit. The history of the legislation on the subject may be noted. During the Second World War, provisions on the subject were contained in the Defence of India Rules. In 1946, the Central Legislature passed the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act1 under Entries 27 and 29 of List II of the Government of India Act, 1935-"Trade and Commerce within the Province" and "production, supply and distribution of goods" as altered by the India (Central Government and Legislature) Act, 19462 (hereinafter referred to as the English Act).

1. The Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946 (24 of 1946).

2. The India (Central Government and Legislature) Act, 1946 (9 and 10 Geo. 6, c. 39).

143. The effect of the English Act was to empower the Central Legislature to make laws with respect to trade and commerce in, and production, supply and distribution of, certain specified goods1, for a temporary period mentioned in section 4, and the Essential Supplies Act came into force on the 19th November, 1946. The Act was to expire on the expiry of the period mentioned in section 4 of the English Act. But, by the combined effect of the public notification issued by the Governor-General under section 4 of the English Act, and the resolutions passed from time to time by the Constituent Assembly acting as the Dominion Legislature, the life of the Essential Supplies Act was further extended upto the 26th January, 1955. Before the Act expired, the President promulgated the Essential Commodities Ordinance2, which was replaced by the Essential Commodities Act3, which is the Act now in force. Detailed history of the various resolutions of the Constituent Assembly and the notification issued by the Governor-General would be found in the under-mentioned decisions4-5-6.

The brief historical resume given above will show the special character of the legislation on the subject.

1. See Basu Commentary on the Constitution of India, (1964), Vol. 5 , p. 504.

2. The Essential Commodities Ordinance, 1955 (1 of 1955).

3. The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (10 of 1955).

4. Khoshed Ali v. The King, AIR 1950 Cal 202.

5. Ramananda v. The State, AIR 1951 Cal 120.

6. State v. Hira Lid, AIR 1951 Born 369.

Proposal to include certain Social and Economic Offences in the Indian Penal Code Back

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