An act to provide for the regulation of marketing of agricultural produce in West Bengal. WHEREAS it is expedient to provide for the regulation of marketing of agricultural produce in West Bengal and for matters connected therewith; AND WHEREAS previous sanction of the President under the proviso to clause (b) of article 304 of the Constitution of India has been obtained. It is hereby enacted in the Twenty-third year of the republic of India, by the Legislature of West Bengal, as follows:-
17. Levy of fee by Market Committee
Notwithstanding anything contained in the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, 1941 or any other law relating to taxation of agricultural produce in force, the market committee shall levy fees on any agricultural produce sold in the market area, at a rate which shall not be more than two rupees per one hundred rupees of the amount for which the agricultural produce is sold, whether for cash or for deferred payment or for other valuable consideration, irrespective of the fact that the buyer of the produce is the Central Government or the State Government or an agent or undertaking of either of them or a corporation Constituted under any law for the time being in force:
Provided that no fee shall be levied in the same market area, more than once, in relation to the same agricultural produce irrespective of the number of transaction.
Explanation I. – For the purpose of this sub-section all agricultural produce taken out, or proposed to be taken out of a market area shall, unless the contrary is proved, be presumed to have been within sold such area.
Explanation II – In the determination of the amount of the fees payable under this sub-section any fraction of ten paise less than five paise shall be disregarded and any fraction of ten paise equal to or exceeding five paise shall be regarded as ten paise.
Explanation III – For the purpose of this sub-section all agricultural produce stored in the cold storages within the market area shall, unless the contrary is proved, be presumed to have been stored for the purpose of sale.
(2) The fees referred to in sub-section (1) shall be paid by the purchaser of the agricultural produce concerned in the following manner, namely:
(i) When a licensed trader is the buyer of any agricultural produce, he shall pay the fees to the market committee in the prescribed manner within a week from the day of the transaction;
(ii) When a licensed trader is the seller of any agricultural produce and the buyer is not licensed, the trader shall recover the fees from the buyer and deposit the same in the prescribed manner with the market committee within a week from the day of the transaction;
(iii) the market committee may authorise its officers or staff or any other person to realise the fees directly from the buyer.
17A. Submission of returns.
(1) Every licensed trader shall submit to the Secretary returns of turnover in such manner, for such period and by such dates as may be prescribed.
(2) The trader shall before submitting any return of turnover referred to in sub-section (1) pay into the market committee fund amount of fees due under this Act according to such return; and for such payment a receipt in duplicate shall be issued to the payee. One of the duplicate receipts issued to the payee shall be attached to the return of the turnover to be submitted to the market committee. In case of failure to submit return within the prescribed period, the market committee shall initiate assessment proceeding for that return period soon after the expiry of the time.
(3) If the Secretary is satisfied that the return of turnover submitted by a trader is correct and complete, he may, without requiring the presence of the trader or the production of evidence by him, determine the amount of fees due from the trader.
(4) If the Secretary is not satisfied with the return of turnover submitted by a trader and requires the presence of the trader or the production of evidence by him, he may serve on such a trader a notice in the prescribed form requiring him or his nominee on a date to be specified there in to attend before him and produce or cause to the produced before him any evidence in support of the return.
(5) On the day specified in the notice issued under sub-section (4) or as soon thereafter as may be, the secretary, after considering such evidence, oral or documentary, as the trader or his nominee may produce and such other evidence as the Secretary may require on specified points, shall, by an order in writing, assess and determine the fees payable by him.
(6) If a trader fails to submit any return of turnover as required under sub-section (1) or fails to comply with the term of a notice issued under sub-section (4), the Secretary shall, after giving the trader an opportunity of being heard, make, in the prescribe manner, the assessment of fees payable under this Act to the best of his judgment and determine the sum payable by the trader on the basis of such assessment. The Secretary may, in such a case, and in a case where a trader has failed to comply with the provision of sub-section (2), direct that the trader shall in addition pay, by away of penalty, a sum not exceeding the amount of the fees assessed, if he is satisfied that the failure was unjustified or willful.
17B. Search and seizure.
The officers or employees of the market committee shall have power to seize any agricultural produce taken, or proposed to be taken, out of a market area in any vehicle, boat or other conveyance, and to search or seize records of market functionaries if such officer or employee has reason to believe that any fees or other amount due to the market committee under this Act in respect of such agricultural produce has not been paid, together with any container or other materials for the packing of commodities. Such seizure shall be forthwith reported by the officer or employee to a Magistrate having jurisdiction to try an offence under this Act and the provision of the code of criminal procedure, 1973 shall, so far as may be, apply in relation to the agricultural produce seized as aforesaid as they apply in relation to property seized by a police officer.
17C. Inspection of vehicles, boats etc.
At any time when so required by any officer or employees of the market committee empowered by the State Government in this behalf, the driver or any other person in-charge of any vehicle, boat or other conveyance which is taken or proposed to be taken out of a market area, shall stop the vehicle, boat or other conveyance, as the case may be, and keep in stationery as long as may reasonably be necessary and allow the officer or employee empowered as aforesaid to examine the contents in the vehicle, boat or other conveyance and inspect all records relating to the agricultural produce carried, which are in the possession of such driver or other person in-charge, who shall, if so required, give his name and address and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle, boat or other conveyance.
Any person aggrieved by an order made under section 17A, 17B or 17C may appeal to an officer of the State Government not below the rank of a superintendent of Agricultural Marketing, as may be specified by the State Government by an order issued in this behalf, having jurisdiction over the area and the decision of such officer shall be final:
Provided that no appeal against an order made under section 17A, 17B, or 17C shall be entertained by such officer unless he is satisfied that such amount of fee as the appellant may admit to be due from him has been paid.
18. Power to borrow(1) A market committee may, with the previous sanction of the State Government, raise money, by taking loan from the State Bank of India or any other bank or otherwise, required for carrying purposes of this Act on the security of any property vested in and belong to such committee.
(2) A market committee may subject to such condition as may be imposed by the State Government, obtain loan from the State Government.
19. Market Committee Fund.
(1) All moneys received by a market committee shall be paid into a fund to be called the market committee fund and all expenditure incurred by the market committee under or for the purposes of this Act shall be defrayed out of the said fund.
(2) Out of the surplus, if any, remaining with the market committee at the close of each market year after meeting all expenditure incurred for the purpose of this Act during the said year, rupees one thousand shall be credited to the reserved fund of the market committee and out of the excess amount, if any, twenty per cent, shall be paid into the West Bengal State Marketing Board Fund.
20. Application of the Market Committee Fund.
(1) Subject to the provisions of section 19, the market committee fund may be applied for the following purpose only, namely;
(i) acquisition, and taking on lease, of market, and management of market;
(ii) maintenance and improvement of the market;
(iii) construction and repair of buildings and installation and repair of equipments which are necessary for the purpose of the market and for the health, convenience and safety of the persons using it;
(iv) provision for and maintenance of standard weights and measures;
(v) payment of pay, leave allowance, gratuity, compassionate allowance and contribution towards leave allowance, compensation for injuries and death resulting from accidents while on duty, medical aid, pension or provident fund of the persons employed by the market committee;
(vi) payment of interest on loans that may be raised for carrying out the purpose of this Act and creation of a fund for repayment of such loans;
(vii) collection and dissemination of information regarding all matters relating to crop statistics and marketing in respect of the agricultural produce concerned;
(viii) providing facilities, such as shelter, parking accommodation and water for the persons, draught cattle, vehicles and pack animals coming or being brought to the market and construction and repair of approach roads, culverts, bridges and such other purposes;
(ix) meeting the expenses incurred in maintenance of office and in auditing the accounts of the market committee;
(x) publicity in favour of agricultural improvements and thrift;
(xi) fostering co-operative marketing and assisting co-operative marketing societies in the procurement and organisation of profitable disposal of produce particularly the produce belonging to small and marginal farmers;
(xii) prevention, in conjunction with other agencies, State, Central and
others of distress sale;
(xiii) meeting any legal expenses incurred by the committee;
(xiv) incurring all expenses for training in marketing of the agricultural produce;
(xv) payment of traveling and sitting allowances to the members and employees of the market committee in such manner and at such rates may be prescribed;
(xvi) grant of loans and advances to the employees;
(xvii) performing, with the previous sanction of the Board any other function as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of this Act.
(1A) Every market committee shall, with the previous approval of the Board, spend every fifty per cent of the fees referred to in sub-section (1) of section 17 for providing facilities with a view to ensuring smooth marketing of agricultural produce or for servicing loans taken on that account. If any market committee fails to spend the amount or portion of it for the aforesaid purposes, the same amount of the unspent portion shall be utilised for other purposes referred to in sub-section (1):
Provided that the Board may from time to time review the requirement of the person using the market area and direct the market committee to provide such facilities as the Board may consider necessary and any such direction by the Board shall be binding on the market committee.
(2) The market committee fund shall be operated by the Chairman jointly with the Secretary and in the absence of the Secretary, with another member of the market committee and the accounts thereof shall be kept and audited in such manner as may be prescribed.
20A Budget of the Market Committee.
(1)The Chairman of the market committee shall, at a special meeting to be held for the purpose before the fifteenth day of November in each year, lay before the market committee a budget of the committee for the next market year.
(2) The market committee shall within the seventh day of December in each year, consider the budget laid before it and accept it with or without modification.
(3) Every budget as accepted by the market committee shall be submitted to the Board within the twentieth day of December in each year and the Board shall, within the twentieth day of January of the following year, either sanction the budget as accepted by the market committee and communicate necessary intimation in this behalf to the market committee or return it to the market committee for making such modifications there in as the Board may deem fit to specify.
(4) Where the budget is returned to the market committee by the Board for making any modifications therein, the market committee shall, within the fifteenth day of February, make such modifications and submit, within the first day of March the budget as so modified to the Board and the Board shall, then, within the thirty first day of March, sanction the same and communicate necessary intimation in this behalf to the market committee.
(5) The Chairman of the market committee may, at any time during the year for which a budget has been sanctioned by the Board, lay before the market committee a supplementary budget, and the provisions of sub-section (2), sub-section (3) and sub-section (4) shall mutatis mutandis apply to such supplementary budget.
(6) No sum shall be expended by or on behalf of the market committee unless the expenditure is covered by a specific provision in the budget sanctioned by the board:
Provided that the market committee may sanction any re-appropriation from one head of expenditure to another or from the provision made for one scheme to the provision made for another, with the previous approval of the Board.
20B. Audited statement of account and annual report
The Secretary of a market committee shall, at a special annual meeting, place before the market committee the audited statement of accounts and annual administration report of such market committee.
21. Execution of contract
(1) Every contract required to be entered into by the market committee shall be in writing and signed on behalf of the market committee by its chairman, Secretary and two other members.
(2) No contract other than a contract as provided in sub-section (1) shall be binding on the market committee.
22. Supersession of the Market Committee
(1) If at any time the State Government considers it necessary so to do in the public interest, it may, by notification, supersede the market committee, the members of which shall forthwith vacate their offices, and proceed to reconstitute it in accordance with the provisions of this Act and appoint a person to perform the functions of the market committee until it is so reconstituted.
(2) For the avoidance of doubts it is hereby declared that a notification of supersession under sub-section (2) shall not effect or imply in any way the dissolution of the market committee as a body corporate.
23. Market Committee to furnish information to State Government
The market committee shall furnish such information in connection with its duties and functions as the Director of the State Government or any officer appointed by the State Government may in this behalf call for.
24. Power of inspection
(1) The Director or any other officer not below the rank of a superintendent of Agricultural Marketing, authorized by the State Government in this behalf by general or special order, may inspect or cause to be inspected the accounts of the market committee or institute an enquiry into the affairs of the market committee and require the market committee or its chairman to do a thing or to refrain from doing a thing which the director or other officer considers necessary or desirable in the interest of the market or the market committee.
(2) The Director or any other officer authorised by the State Government under sub-section (1) shall, for the purpose of said sub-section, have the same power as are vested in a court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, when trying a suit in respect of the following matters namely:-
(a) enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on
oath or affirmation;
(b) compelling the production of documents; and
(c) issuing commissions for the examination of witness.
25. Director may cancelled or suspend any licence.
The Director may for reasons to be recorded in writing, suspend or cancel any licence issued under section 13 and may take such other steps as he may deem fit in the interest of market;
Provided that before passing any order under this section the director shall give a reasonable opportunity to the licensee of being heard.
26. Alternative arrangements for performing the duties of Market Committee.
Where the market committee is unable due to any order or decision of a court or any other reason to perform the duties imposed upon it by or under this Act, the State Government shall make such alternative arrangement as it deems necessary for the due performance of the duties and functions of such market committee.
27. Supervisory power of the Director and the Board and appeal to the State Government.
(1) The Director or the Board may at any time call for and examine any record from market committee for the purpose of satisfying himself or itself, as the case may be, as to the legality or propriety of any decision or order passed by such market committee and may, after giving an opportunity to the market committee of being heard, pass such order thereon as considered fit and proper:
Provided that the Director of the Board when he or it, as the case may be, calls or any record from a market committee, shall also notify the other about such action and the other, as the case may be, shall not in such a case take any action.
(2) The Director or the Board may, pending the examination and disposal of the matter under section (1), direct that the execution of the decision or order the market committee be stayed.
(3) The market committee, if dissatisfied with the decision of the Director or the Board under sub-section (1), or any person aggrieved by the refusal to stay the execution of the decision or order the market committee, may prefer an appeal to the State Government within such time and such manner as may be prescribed.
28. Acquisition of land by Market Committee.
(1) Where any land is needed for the purpose of the market committee, the State Government may proceed to acquire the same under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 the West Bengal Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1948 or any other law for the time being in force.
(2) Any land so acquired shall be transferred to the market committee on such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon between the State Government and the market committee.
29. Power to exempt.
The State Government may, by notification and subject to such conditions and restrictions as it may think fit to impose, exempt any class of persons, commodity or traders from all or any of the provisions of this Act. Such exemption order shall also be published in the market area or the office of the local authority in such manner as may be prescribed.
30. Recovery of sums due.
Every due to market committee under this Act shall be recoverable as an arrear of land revenue under the provisions of the Bengal Public Demands Recovery Act, 1913.
31. Members and employees of a Market Committee to be public servants.
Every member of a market committee and every officer and employee of a market committee shall be deemed to be a public servant within the meaing of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
32. Bar of suits in absence of notice.
(1) No suit shall be institute against any market committee, its Chairman, Vice-Chairman, or any other member, any officer or employee, or any person acting under the direction of any such market committee, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, or any other member, any officer or employee, for anything done or purported to be done, in good faith as such member, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, office, employee or person under this Act, until the expiration of two months next after notice in writing stating the cause of action, the name and place of abode of the intending plaintiff and the relief which he claims, has been in the case of a market committee delivered or left at its office and in the case of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman or other member, officer, employee or person as aforesaid, delivered to him or left at his office or usual place of abode, and the plaint shall contain a statement that such notice has been so delivered or left.
(2) Every such suit shall be dismissed unless it is instituted within six months from the date of accrual of the cause of action.
(3) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to apply to any suit instituted under section 38 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963.
33. Prohibition of trade allowance, fee or charge.
No trade allowance, fee or charge other than such as may determined by a market committee shall be recovered in any transaction within a market area.
(1) Whoever contravenes the provisions sub-section (2) of section 4 or the provisions of section 13 shall, on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees or with both, and in the case of a continuing contravention, with a further fine which may extend to fifty rupees per day during which the contravention continues after the first conviction.
(2) Whoever in contravention of the provisions of section 33 recovers any trade allowance, fee or charge shall, on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment for the term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees or with both, and in case of a continuing offence with a further fine which may extend to fifty rupees for every day during which such offence continues after the first conviction.
(3) Whoever contravenes any condition of a licence granted by a market committee shall on conviction, be punishable with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.
(4) Whoever obstructs any authorized person while discharging his duty under section 16 shall, on conviction, be punishable with fine, which may extend to five hundred upees.
(5) Whoever fails to pay any fee or other sum due to the market committee under the provision of this act or the rules or bye-laws made thereunder evades the payment due towards remuneration to any weighman or palladar, or demands remuneration without authority for the seller or buyer for his employment or demands remuneration otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the rules and bye-laws made under this Act shall, on conviction, be punishable with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees and in case of a continuing offence with a further fine which may extend to fifty rupees for every day during which such offence continues after the first conviction.
(6) Whoever contravenes any provisions of this Act or any rule or buy-laws made thereunder shall, if no other penalty is provided for the offence, be punishable with fine which shall not be less than twenty rupees but may extend to two hundred rupees.
(7) All offences punishable under this Act or the rules made thereunder shall be cognizable and bailable.
(8) The market committee may accept from any person who has committed or reasonably suspected of having committed an offence against this Act or the rules or buy-laws made thereunder by way of composition of such offence --
(a) Where the offence consists of the failure to pay on evasion of any fee or other amount so recoverable under this Act or the rules or bye-laws made thereunder, in addition to the fee or other amount recoverable, a sum not exceeding five hundred rupees or double the amount of fee or other amount of fee or other amount whichever is grater, and
(b) in other cases, a sum of money not exceeding five hundred rupees.
(9) Whenever any person is convicted of any offence under this Act or rules or bye-laws made thereunder, the magistrate shall, in addition to any fine which may be imposed, direct the person to pay the market committee the amount of fees or any other money that may be due from him under this Act and the rules or bye-laws made thereunder, and also such costs of prosecution as may be fixed by the magistrate, within such time as may be fixed by him and on failure to pay such dues within such time, the Magistrate shall impose such further fine or imprisonment or both as he may think fit.
(10) Any police officer may arrest any person committing any offence against any provision of this Act or any rule or bye-law made thereunder and produce him before the nearest Magistrate for necessary orders and communicate that information to the market committee forthwith.
35. Power to delegate
Subject to the other provisions of the Act the State Government may delegate any of its powers or functions under this Act to the Director.