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Sections 10 to 16 of Essential Commodities Act 1955

Section 10. Offences by companies.―

(1) If the person contravening an order made under section 3 is a company, every person who, at the time the contravention was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:

 Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment if he proves that the contravention took place without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent such contravention.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Explanation.―For the purposes of this section,―
(a) “company” means any body corporate, and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and
(b) “director” in relation to a firm means a partner in the firm.

Section 10A. Offences to be cognizable.―

Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) every offence punishable under this Act shall be "cognizable".

Section 10B. Power of court to publish name, place of business, etc., of companies convicted under the Act.―

(1) Where any company is convicted under this Act, it shall be competent for the court convicting the company to cause the name and place of business of the company, nature of the contravention, the fact that the company has been so convicted and such other particulars as the court may consider to be appropriate in the circumstances of the case, to be published at the expense of the company in such newspapers or in such other manner as the court may direct.

(2) No publication under sub-section (1) shall be made until the period for preferring an appeal against the orders of the court has expired without any appeal having been preferred, or such an appeal, having been preferred, has been disposed of.

(3) The expenses of any publication under sub-section (1) shall be recoverable from the company as if it were a fine imposed by the court.

Explanation.―For the purposes of this section, “company” has the meaning assigned to it in clause (a) of the Explanation of section 10.

Section 10C. Presumption of culpable mental state.―

(1) In any prosecution for any offence under this Act which requires a culpable mental state on the part of the accused, the court shall presume the existence of such mental state but it shall be a defence for the accused to prove the fact that he had no such mental state with respect to the act charged as an offence in that prosecution.

Explanation.―In this section, “culpable mental state” includes intention, motive, knowledge of a fact and the belief in, or reason to believe, a fact.

(2) For the purposes of this section, a fact is said to be proved only when the court believes it to exist beyond reasonable doubt and not merely when its existence is established by a preponderance of probability.

Section 11. Cognizance of offences.―

No Court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act except on a report in writing of the facts constituting such offence made by a person who is a public servant as defined in section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or any person aggrieved or any recognised consumer association, whether such person is a member of that association or not.

Explanation.―For the purposes of this section and section 12AA, “recognised consumer association” means a voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956) or any other law for the time being in force.

Section 12. Special provision regarding fine.―

Notwithstanding anything contained in section 29 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), it shall be lawful for any Metropolitan Magistrate, or any Judicial Magistrate of the first class specially empowered by the State Government in this behalf, to pass a sentence of fine exceeding five thousand rupees on any person convicted of contravening any order made under section 3.

Section 12A. Power to try summarily.―

(1) If the Central Government is of opinion that a situation has arisen where, in the interests of production, supply or distribution of any essential commodity not being an essential commodity referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (2) or trade or commerce therein and other relevant considerations, it is necessary that the contravention of any order made under section 3 in relation to such essential commodity should be tried summarily, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify such order to be a special order for purposes of summary trial under this section, and every such notification shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is issued, before both Houses of Parliament:

Provided that―
(a) every such notification issued after the commencement of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 1971, shall, unless sooner rescinded, cease to operate at the expiration of two years after the publication of such notification in the Official Gazette;
(b) every such notification in force immediately before such commencement shall, unless sooner rescinded, cease to operate at the expiration of two years after such commencement:

Provided further that nothing in the foregoing proviso shall affect any case relating to the contravention of a special order specified in any such notification if proceedings by way of summary trial have commenced before that notification is rescinded or ceases to operate and the provisions of this section shall continue to apply to that case as if that notification had not been rescinded or had not ceased to operate.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) all, offences relating to―

(a) the contravention of an order made under section 3 with respect to―
  (ii) foodstuffs, including edible oilseeds and oil; or
  (iii) drugs; and

(b) where any notification issued under sub-section (1) in relation to a special order is in force, the contravention of such special order,

shall be tried in a summary way by a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class specially empowered in this behalf by the State Government or by a Metropolitan Magistrate and the provisions of sections 262 to 265 (both inclusive) of the said Code shall, as far as may be, apply to such trial:

Provided that, in the case of any conviction in a summary trial under this section, it shall be lawful for the Magistrate to pass a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year:

Provided further that when at the commencement of, or in the course of, a summary trial under this section, it appears to the Magistrate that the nature of the case is such that a sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding one year may have to be passed or that it is, for any other reason, undesirable to try the case summarily, the Magistrate shall, after hearing the parties, record an order to that effect and thereafter recall any witnesses who may have been examined and proceed to hear or re-hear the case in the manner provided by the said Code.

(3) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 1973 (2 of 1974), there shall be no appeal by a convicted person in any case tried summarily under this section in which the Magistrate passes a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding one month, and of fine not exceeding two thousand rupees whether or not any order of forfeiture of property or an order under section 452 of the said Code is made in addition to such sentences, but an appeal shall lie where any sentence in excess of the aforesaid limits is passed by the Magistrate.

(4) All cases relating to the contravention of an order referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (2), not being a special order, and pending before a Magistrate immediately before the commencement of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 1974, and, where any notification is issued under sub-section (1) in relation to a special order, all cases relating to the contravention of such special order and pending before a Magistrate immediately before the date of the issue of such notification, shall, if no witnesses have been examined before such commencement or the said date, as the case may be, be tried in a summary way under this section, and if any such case is pending before a Magistrate who is not competent to try the same in a summary way under this section, it shall be forwarded to a Magistrate so competent.

Section 12B. Grant of injunction, etc., by civil courts.―

No civil court shall grant an injunction or make any order for any other relief, against the Central Government or any State Government or a Public officer in respect of any Act done or purporting to be done by such Government, or such officer in his official capacity, under this Act or any order made thereunder, until after notice of the application for such injunction or other relief has been given to such Government or officer.

Section 13. Presumption as to orders.―

Where an order purports to have been made and signed by an authority in exercise of any power conferred by or under this Act, a court shall presume that such order was so made by that authority within the meaning of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872).

Section 14. Burden of proof in certain cases.―

Where a person is prosecuted for contravening any order made under section 3 which prohibits him from doing any act or being in possession of a thing without lawful authority or without a permit, licence or other document, the burden of proving that he has such authority, permit, licence or other document shall be on him.

Section 15. Protection of action taken under Act.―

(1) No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance of any order made under section 3.

(2) No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Government for any damage caused or likely to be caused by anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance of any order made under section 3.

Section 15A. Prosecution of public servants.―

Where any person who is a public servant is accused of of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his duty in pursuance of an order made under section 3, no court shall take cognizance of such offence except with the previous sanction―

  (a) of the Central Government, in the case of a person who is employed or, as the case may be, was at the time of commission of the alleged offence employed, in connection with the affairs of the Union;

  (b) of the State Government, in the case of a person who is employed or, as the case may be, was at the time of commission of the alleged offence employed, in connection with the affairs of the State.

Section 16. Repeals and savings.―

(1) The following laws are hereby repealed:―
  (a) the Essential Commodities Ordinance, 1955 (1 of 1955);
  (b) any other law in force in any State immediately before the commencement of this Act in so far as such law controls or authorises the control of the production, supply and distribution of, and trade and commerce in, any essential commodity.

(2) Notwithstanding such repeal, any order made or deemed to be made by any authority whatsoever, under any law repealed hereby and in force immediately before the commencement of this Act, shall, in so far as such order may be made under this Act, be deemed to be made under this Act and continue in force, and accordingly any appointment made, licence or permit granted or direction issued under any such order and in force immediately before such commencement shall continue in force until and unless it is superseded by any appointment made, licence or permit granted or direction issued under this Act.

(3) The provision of sub-section (2) shall be without prejudice to the provision contained in section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 (10 of 1897), which shall also apply to the repeal of the Ordinance or other law referred to in sub-section (1) as if such Ordinance or other law had been an enactment.





Extra Notes for Readers

(1) Section 12A was inserted by the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 1964 (Act 47 of 1964).

(2) Section 10A was inserted by the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 1967 (Act No. 36 of 1967) (w.e.f. 30-Dec-1967).

(3) Section 12A of this Act was amended by Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 1971 (Act 66 of 1971) (w.e.f. 23-Dec-1971).

(4) Modifications by Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 1974 (No. 30 of 1974) (w.e.f. 22-Jun-1974)
 o Section 10A was amended;
 o Sections 10B & 10C were inserted;
 o Section 12 was substituted;
 o Section 12A was amended;
 o Section 12B was inserted.

(5) Section 15A of this Act was inserted by Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 1976 (Act 92 of 1976) (w.e.f. 2-Sep-1976).

(6) In Section 11 of this Act - the words "or any person aggrieved or any recognised consumer association, whether such person is a member of that association or not" - were inserted and the "Explanation" was inserted by Act 73 of 1986 (w.e.f. 1-May-1987).

(7) Sub-clause (i) of clause (a) of sub-section (2) of Section 12A of this Act was omitted by Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2006 (Act 54 of 2006) (w.e.f. 12-Feb-2007).

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