The Bombay High Court on Monday restrained the state government from selling 38,430 quintals of sugar confiscated by Kolhapur district administration even though sugar prices have been skyrocketing due to acute shortage.
In March, to counter the short fall, the Centre has issued orders under the Essential Commodities Act, preventing traders from holding sugar stocks for more than three months. The order also permitted traders to hold stock of only 2,000 quintals sugar at a time.
On July 23, the Kolhapur Collector lodged criminal complaints against 23 traders for violating provisions of the preventive order. A month later, sugar stocks in godowns on Warnanagar sugar factory premises were confiscated.
Before the appeals filed by the traders with Minister of State for Civil Supplies could be approved, the state government issued an order directing the Collector to dispose of the sugar in open market.
Some of the traders moved High Court and their representatives claimed that the amendment that vested the power of appellate authority with the state government had lapsed way back in 1997. In order to revive original provisions, appointment of a judicial authority to hear appeals against orders of Collector under the EC Act was required.
The division bench of Justice S.B. Mhase and Justice R.M. Sawant rapped the state for usurping powers without any authority of law and directed the state to appoint a judicial appellate authority within two weeks for hearing appeals under the EC Act.