Karachi-The Sindh Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed ‘The Sindh Essential Commodities Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding (Amendment) Bill, 2023’, enhancing fine and imprisonment for violators of the law and enabling the authorised officer to search any place ‘without warrants’ to ensure ‘efficient’ action against profiteering and hoarding.
Parliamentary Affairs Parliamentary Secretary Ghanwer Ali Khan moved the bill clause-by-clause which was passed unanimously.
As per the bill, the fine for the failure of displaying the price list of essential commodities had been increased upto Rs100,000 for producers or dealers, upto Rs20,000 for retailers other than pushcart vendors, and up to Rs10,000 for pushcart vendors.
The fine for sale of different commodities at a higher price than the notified/company prices had been increased upto Rs100,000.
The payment of fine should be determined by the authorised officer and varied on the condition and seize of the business being done by the offender.
Search, arrest without warrants
“When any authorised officer has reasonable grounds to suspect either upon receiving credible information or in his opinion that there has been a contravention of any of the provisions of the law, he may after recording in writing the grounds of his suspicion enter and search without any warrant,” a clause of the bill read.
It added that upon entering and searching a place, if articles found at such place in contravention of any of the provisions of the act, the authorised officer may impose and seize the material.
The accused person whose articles had been seized might file an appeal before special magistrate. All the offences punishable under the act shall be cognisable and non-bailable and the case will be tried at the special magistrate.
Any person aggrieved buy an order of conviction and sentence was entitled to file appeal before a district and sessions judge within 30 days of the order.
Reward for information provider
The bill read that any person—other than public office holder, employee of Federal or provincial government or their family member—who provided the information to an authorised officer with regard to any violation would be rewarded.
“A person who provides information regarding act of hoarding, price hike and any violation with results in conviction and deposit of fine amount into government treasury shall be entitled to an award equivalent to 10 percent of the amount of fine so recovered to government exchequer,” the bill read.
Under the law, the dealers had been bound to provide information regarding production, import, export, purchase, stock, sale or distribution of any of the articles as the inspector or the officer may, by an order in writing require.
The authorised officer may direct the owner or manufacturer of articles or owner and management of godowns or storage places, shop keepers or their agents to declare stocks of any particular item, owned or managed by them at their premises at any point in time or at such periodical intervals as he may deem fit.
The declaration to be made would include the quantity of stock, its value, date of purchase, copies of procurement invoices in any given time frame, alongwith details of any sale or sale agreements.
The authorised officer may verify the stock as well as the books or documents in respect of the stock, purchase or sale, at any time, in respect of articles.
While carrying out the verification of stock in terms of sub-section (4) or upon receipt of any information from whatever source, the authorised officer may require the dealer, shop keeper, owner or manager of a godown or storage place to furnish the details of persons, shops, firms or companies, etc from whom the purchases have been made and to whom the sales have been or are to be made.
Uplift of Sadh Belo temple
Mangla Sharma of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) in her call attention notice said that development work of the temple in Sadh Belo, Sukkur was delayed.
She asked as to what steps had been taken by the Minorities Affairs Department to complete the works.
Mangla asked the provincial government to complete the work at the earliest so that Hindu community across the globe could visit the temple.
She also asks the provincial government to declare the temple in Sad Belo Sukkur as a national heritage.
Replying to a call attention notice, Minorities Affairs Minister Giyan Chand Essarani said that the scheme was initiated in 2011-12 with a revised cost of over Rs1 billion, adding that the works had to be halted after some irregularities were surfaced.
He conceded that the department did not have a capacity to carry out such big scheme. He added that they asked the chief minister to award the scheme to culture and tourism ministry.
Later, the house was adjourned for today (Friday).