HC seeks govt legal action against hoarders, syndicates

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Dhaka, Mar 15: The High Court on Tuesday directed government authorities concerned, to take legal action against syndicates and hoarders of daily essential items.

The Ministry of Commerce, Directorate of National Consumers Right Protection, and other entities concerned, were asked to submit a report to the court by 28 April about the steps taken in this regard.

The High Court bench of Justice Farah Mahbub and Justice SM Maniruzzaman gave the order after hearing a petition seeking its directives to curb the soaring prices of daily commodities including soybean oil.

The HC issued a rule asking authorities concerned to explain why there should not be a  regulation under Section 21 (1) of the Competition Act to prevent syndication and illegal hoarding.

It also asked for explanations as to why daily essentials such as rice, lentil, oil, sugar, flour, and onion should not be included in the Open Market Sale (OMS) system and be sold through ration cards.

Syed Mohidul Kabir and Syeda Nasrin appeared for the writ petition while Deputy Attorney General Pratikar Chakma moved on behalf of the state in court.

During the hearing, the court expressed discontent with the government’s lack of implementation of the law to control the surging price of commodities.

“You (the government) have been vested with the Consumer Rights Act to take action against those involved in syndication and to control commodity prices. It is due to non-implementation of the law, that the market has become volatile,” the court observed.

Even though the government has set commodity prices, a syndicate is creating instability in the market. Every year, commodity prices increase ahead of Ramadan because there is no implementation of the law. As such, government institutions concerned need to be made more active, the court added.

On 6 March, a writ was filed with the High Court seeking its directives to form a monitoring cell and to formulate policy for checking the price of soybean oil.

Supreme Court lawyer Monir Hossain and two other lawyers filed the writ.

The commerce secretary, director-general of the Directorate of National Consumers Right Protection, and other relevant people were made respondents to the writ.