Judicial

Crack down on syndicates of essential commodities, HC asks govt

The High Court on Tuesday directed the government to take immediate legal action against syndicates and hoarders of essential commodities.

A division bench of justices Farah Mahbub and SM Moniruzzaman asked the commerce secretary, the home affairs secretary and the Bangladesh Competition Commission to submit an action-taken report by April 26.

The court passed the order in the wake of a writ petition by three Supreme Court lawyers seeking directions to set up a monitoring cell to control soybean oil prices in the market.

The bench issued a rule questioning why a regulation will not be formulated following Section 21(1) of the Competition Act, 2012, to stop syndication of essential commodities.

The court also questioned why daily commodities like rice, pulse, oil, sugar, flour and onion should not be sold through ration shops, bringing those under Open Market Sale (OMS) policy.

Advocates Syed Mohidul Kabir and Syeda Nasrin represented the petitioner’s side while Deputy Attorney General Pratikar Chakma appeared for the state.

Seven people and entities were made respondents to the rule, including the commerce secretary, the home affairs secretary and the Bangladesh Competition Commission.

On Monday, the court said that a nexus of individuals and groups are taking advantage of inactive machinery such as regulations, policies and regulatory and monitoring bodies of the government in controlling the prices of essential commodities.

“It’s not a one-day job to control or monitor the market, so we want the machinery to be active 365 days a year and effective steps are needed to activate them,” it said.

Earlier on March 6, Supreme Court lawyers Monir Hossain, Syed Mohidul Kabir and Mohammad Ullah filed the writ petition in public interest.

The secretary of the commerce ministry, the Consumer Rights Authority and others were made respondents to the petition.

On March 3, the three lawyers brought the issue of soybean oil price hike to the notice of HC following a report published in an English daily.

According to the report, a group of traders in Bangladesh has raised the soybean oil prices, taking advantage of the Russia-Ukraine war.

On March 2, the price of a litre of loose soybean oil was available at Tk 175 despite the fixed rate being Tk 143.

Source: United News of Bangladesh