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Section 2 – The Essential Commodities Act, 1955

The Essential Commodities Act, 1955





In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, –




2[3[(ia) “Collector” includes an Additional Collector and such other officer, not below the rank of Sub-Divisional Officer, as may be authorised by the Collector to perform the functions and exercise the powers of the Collector under this Act;]]




(b) “food-crops” include crops of sugarcane;


(c) “notified order” means an order notified in the Official Gazette;


5[(cc) “order” includes a direction issued thereunder;]


6[(d) “State Government,” in relation to a Union territory, means the administrator thereof;]


7[(e) “sugar” means—


(i) any form of sugar containing more than ninety per cent., of sucrose, including sugar candy;


(ii) khandsari sugar or bura sugar or crushed sugar or any sugar in crystalline or powdered form; or


(iii) sugar in process in vacuum pan sugar factory or raw sugar produced therein.]






Himachal Pradesh. —In section 2, in clause (a), after sub-clause (vi), insert the following sub-clause, namely:—


“(via) packing cases made wholly or partly of wood, card-board or straw;”


[ Vide Himachal Pradesh Act 1 of 1992, sec. 2 (w.e.f. 29-2-1992).]


Maharashtra. —In section 2,—


(a) after the words “the context otherwise requires,” and before clause (a), insert the following clause, namely:—


“(ai) ‘Collector’ in Greater Bombay means the Controller of Rationing and includes any Deputy or Assistant Controller of Rationing, and elsewhere means the Collector of the District and includes any Assistant or Deputy Collector or District Supply Officer within his respective jurisdiction;”


(b) after clause (b), insert the following clauses, namely:—


“(ba) ‘holder’, in relation to any agricultural land, means the person in actual possession of such land, and includes a company or other body corporate, firm, association, joint family or body of individuals in joint possession of such land;


(bb) ‘holding’ means the aggregate of all lands in possession of a holder;”

[ Vide Maharashtra Act 1 of 1976, sec. 2 (w.r.e.f. 12-11-1975).]




Order made by the Central Government in respect of foodstuffs is intra vires the powers conferred by the provisions of section 2


Seeds of foodstuffs is an item which has direct bearing with the production of the foodstuffs and consequently it is competent for the Parliament as well as the States to make laws in relation to seeds of foodstuffs. Surely seeds of food-crops and seeds of fruits and vegetable relate to foodstuffs. An order in respect of foodstuffs made by the Central Government is intra vires the powers conferred by sub-clause (xi) of clause (a) of section 2 of the Act; Rashu Seeds & Farms v. Union of India, AIR 1994 SC 533.


Tea is not foodstuff


In common parlance ‘food’ is something that is eaten. In wider sense ‘food’ may include not only solid substances but also a drink. Still the fact remains that the substance called ‘food’ should possess the quality to maintain life and its growth; it must have nutritive or nourishing value so as to enable the growth, repair or maintenance of the body. Tea does not have any nutritive value. Therefore, tea is not a ‘foodstuff’; S. Samuel, M.D., Harrisons Malayalam v. Union of India , AIR 2004 SC 218.


Word “oil” used in regard to foodstuff is edible oil


The word ‘oil’ was used in regard to foodstuff thus it pertains to only edible type of oils and not oils like kerosene; Tulsidas Modi v. State of Orissa, 1987 Cr LJ 664.



1. Extended to Goa, Daman and Diu with modifications by Regulation 12 of 1962, sec. 3 and Sch., to Dadra and Nagar Haweli by Regulation 6 of 1963, sec. 2 and Sch. I and to Lakshadweep and Amindivi Islands by Regulation 8 of 1965, sec. 3 and Sch., to the State of Sikkim (w.e.f. 7-1-1976), vide S.O. 28(E), dated 7th January, 1976.


This Act has been amended in Maharashtra by Maharashtra Act 71 of 1976, in Orissa by Orissa Act 8 of 1976, in Uttar Pradesh by Uttar Pradesh Acts 9 of 1974, 18 of 1975, 39 of 1975 and 16 of 1978.


2. Clause (ia) renumbered as clause (iia) and before clause (iia) so renumbered clause (ia) inserted by Act 18 of 1981, sec. 3(a) as amended by Act 34 of 1993, sec. 3 for a period of fifteen years which now stands ceased to have effect after the expiry of fifteen years. See Appendix—Section 3(a) of the Essential Commodities (Special Provisions) Act, 1981 (18 of 1981).


3. Ins. by Act 92 of 1976, sec. 2 (w.e.f. 2-9-1976).


4. Clause (a) omitted by Act 54 of 2006, sec. 2 (w.e.f. 12-2-2007). Earlier clause (a) was amended by Act 30 of 1974, sec. 2 (w.r.e.f. 22-6-1974). Clause (a), before omission by Act 54 of 2006, stood as under:


‘(a) “essential commodity” means any of the following classes of commodities:—


(i) cattle fodder, including oilcakes and other concentrates;


(ii) coal including coke and other derivatives;


(iii) component parts and accessories of automobiles;


(iv) cotton and woollen textiles;’.


(iva) drugs.


Explanation.— In this sub-clause, “drug” has the meaning assigned to it in clause (b) of section 3 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (23 of 1940);


(v) foodstuffs, including edible oilseeds and oils;


(vi) iron and steel, including manufactured products of iron and steel;


(vii) paper, including newsprint, paperboard and straw board;


(viii) petroleum and petroleum products;


(ix) raw cotton, whether ginned or unginned, and cotton seed;

(x) raw jute;


(xi) any other class of commodity which the Central Government may, by notified order, declare to be an essential commodity for the purposes of this Act, being a commodity with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws by virtue of entry 33 in List III in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution;


5. Ins. by Act 36 of 1967, sec. 2(a) (w.e.f. 30-12-1967).


6. Subs. by the A.O. (No. 3) Order, 1956, for clause (d).


7. Ins. by Act 36 of 1967, sec. 2(b) (w.e.f. 30-12-1967).


8. Clause (f) ins. by Act 18 of 1981, sec. 3(b) as amended by Act 34 of 1993, sec. 3 for a period of fifteen years, which now stands ceased to have effect after the expiry of fifteen years. See Appendix —Section 3(b) of the Essential Commodities (Special Provisions) Act, 1981.



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