Maharashtra will have to wait more for the proposed law to regulate prices of pulses. The Centre has sent back the state's draft Bill, questioning the very need of such a law when the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 already provides stringent provisions to curb hoarding and control prices. The Centre has also questioned why the provision for imprisonment, in case of violation, is lower than the Essential Commodities Act.
"The Centre has objected to the provision for three-month imprisonment to be extended to up to one year. Under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, there is provision of imprisonment up to seven years. The Centre has sought clarification and questioned the very need for a special act," said a state government official.
Now, either the state Cabinet or the chief minister will have to approve the modification. "The food and civil supplies department, after seeking the opinion of legal experts, will seek approval of the Chief Minister or Cabinet," the official added.
In April, the BJP-led government had cleared the draft Bill, after criticism from Opposition and consumer organisations, over spiralling prices of pulses.
The draft Bill proposes to cover prices of tur dal, black gram, green gram, lentils and beans, with area-wide capping rates.