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Edible Oil Hoarding

Experts for strict application of Spl Power Act

Published : Monday, 16 May, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 603
Muhammad Yeasin  

Although there is strict law to deal with hoarders but the government seems to have taken a softer approach to implementing the same except levying fine and warning the traders against stockpiling.    
There is a specific provision to file case against unscrupulous businessmen, who were involved in hoarding necessary commodities illegally but the authorities concerned did not file any case against the illegal hoarders even after recovering huge amount of edible oil from their warehouses.
According to official disclosure, more than 1,000,000 liters of soybean oil and palm oil have been recovered in the raids since Eid and only on Thursday some 260,000 litres. But, members of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) did not file any case against the unscrupulous businessmen as it did not apply the Special Powers Act 1974 against the illegal hoarders during the drive.
Section 25 (1) of the Special Powers Act, 1974 says, "Whoever is found guilty of the offence of hoarding or dealing in the black-market shall be punishable with death or with imprisonment for life or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years and shall also be liable
to fine."
Provided that if, in the case of an offence of hoarding, the person accused of such offence proves that he was hoarding for purposes other than gain, whether financial or otherwise, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, and shall also be liable to fine, according to the law.
 Section (2) the Special Powers Act, 1974 says, "A court convicting an offence of hoarding or dealing in the black-market shall order the forfeiture to government of anything in respect of which the offence was committed."
But, after applying the Consumer Rights Protection Act 2009, the DNCRP, an agency of the Commerce Ministry, sold the cooking oil to people through the hoarders at the price printed on bottles and fined the hoarders as there is no provision into the Consumer Rights Protection Act to file cases against hoarders.
Officials at the Consumer Protection Department said that the Consumer Rights Protection Act does not have the authority to file case against illegal hoarders. Therefore, they are fulfilling their responsibility by closing shops and businesses for a limited time, imposing fines, warning not to stockpile illegally and instructing them to sell daily commodities including edible oil at reasonable prices.
Lawyers and the rights activists opined that the authorities concerned should have to file specific cases under the Special Powers Act against unscrupulous businessmen to ensure speedy punishment. The government should take initiative to amend the Consumer Rights Protection Act incorporating the provision of filing cases and increase the amount of fines against the offenders. Otherwise the people will be held hostage to the syndicate, they opined.
"If DNCRP authority with the help of law enforcing agencies would apply Special Powers Act against hoarders, they could bring the unscrupulous businessmen to justice through filing cases against hoarders as law enforcers could file case against illegal hoarders under this law," Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, legal adviser to Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said.
There is a specific provision of sentencing illegal hoarders to death under Special Powers Act. But it is not being implemented. Under the Consumer Rights Protection Act, illegal hoarders and black market syndicates are being given legal exemption by giving small fines, he noted.
He also said that earlier Special Powers Act was applied to deal with the black market of rice in some cases. But I don't see that in the case of oil. Because the top oil traders are very powerful politically. They are busy protecting the interests of traders. For this reason, this strict law is not being enforced against large scale black market, he noted.
The Special Powers Act must be applied to bring the unscrupulous businessmen to justice considering the greater interest of the common people, he added.
AHM Safiquzzaman, Director General of the Department of Consumer Protection, said that they could not sue under the Consumer Rights Protection Act. But, we are conducting the operations and taking the help of the police to file a case. We asked police to file cases under criminal law and Special Powers Act, if necessary.

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