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:-
36. Constitution of the Board.
(1) The State Government may, by notification, establish a Board to be known as the West Bengal State Marketing Board.
(2) The Board shall be a body corporate by the aforesaid name, shall have perpetual succession and a common seal, may sued and be sued in its corporate name and shall be competent to acquire, hold and dispose of property, both movable and immovable, enter into contracts and do all such things as may, from time to time, be necessary for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
(3) The Board shall be constituted by the State Government by notification and shall consist of members, both officials and non-officials, not more than 20 in number, of whom not more than 10 shall be non-officials.
(4) The members of the Board shall be appointed by the State Government.
(5) The State Government shall appoint one from among the members of the Board to be the Chairman, one to be the Vice-Chairman and another to be the secretary of the Board.
(6) The term of office of the members of the Board shall be three years from the date of notification under subsection (3) and shall include any further period which may elapse between the expiration of such period of three years and the date of the first meeting of the successding Board at which a quorum is present:
Provided that a member of the Board may, on the expiry of his term of office, be re-appointed.
(7) (i) The names of Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Secretary appointed under sub-section (5) with the other members of the Board shall be declared by the State Government by notification, but the Board shall be deemed to be duly constituted from the date of notification under sub-section (3).
Provided that the notification constituting the Board prior to the commencement of the West Bengal Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) (Amendment) Act, 1981, shall be deemed to have been issued under sub-section (3).
(8) A member of the Board including the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman and the Secretary may, by writing under his hand addressed to:-
(a) the State Government, in case of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and the Secretary, and
(b) the Chairman, in case of the other members of the Board, resign his Office and on such resignation being accepted, he shall be deemed to have vacated his office.
(9) if at any time a vacancy occurs in the office of the member of the Board by reason of the non-acceptance of office or by the removal, death or resignation, the vacancy shall be filled up by fresh appointment of a person who shall hold office for the unexpired period of the term of office of the member whose place he fills.
36A.Meetings of the Board
(1) The Board shall meet as an when considered necessary by the Chairman but the least once in a quarter:
Provided that Chairman may, for the purpose of disposing of outstanding business of the Board or for any other purpose, and shall on receipt of a written requisition, signed at least by majority of the members of the Board and specifying the agenda, call a special meeting of the Board.
(2) The Chairman, and the absence of the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman, of the Board and in the absence of the both the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman, any member chosen by the members of the Board present in the meeting for the purpose shall preside over the meeting of the Board.
(3) All questions in the meeting shall be decided by the majority of votes, the person presiding having a second or casting vote in case of equality of votes.
(4)(a) The numbers of the members necessary to form a quorum shall be such as may be prescribed.
(4)(b) If there be no quorum in the meeting, no business shall be transacted at such a meeting and the meeting shall be adjourned to another date: Provided that no quorum shall be necessary in the case of such adjourned meeting.
(5) The Board shall meet at such time and place and shall observe such rules of procedure in regard to the transaction of business at its meeting as may be prescribed.
(6) No person, who –
(a) is an employee of the Board, or
(b) has been declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind, or
(c) is an undischarged insolvent, or
(d) has been convicted by a court of law for an offence involving moral turpitude,
shall be eligible to be appointed as a member of the Board.
(7) (a) The State Government may, by notification, remove any member of the Board from his office if such member has, in the opinion of the State Government been guilty of misconduct or neglect of duty or has become disqualified within the meaning of sub-section (6):
Provided that the State Government shall, before passing any order under this clause, give the person concerned an opportunity of being heard.
7) (b) No member of the Board who has been removed from his office on any of the grounds mentioned in clause (a) shall be re-appointed to the Board.
(8) No action of the Board shall be called in question merely by reason of the existence of any vacancy in or any defect in the constitution of, the Board at the time of taking such action.
36 B.Power to remove difficulty
If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the State Government may take such steps or issue such orders, not inconsistent with this Act, as may appear to it to be necessary or expedient for the purpose of removing such difficulty.
36 C. Powers and duties of the Board.
(1) Subject to the control of the State Government, the Board shall have the powers –
(a) to exercise superintendence and control over the business and affairs
of the market committees,
(b) to inspect or cause to be inspected the business and affairs of the market committees including their accounts and the markets established by them,
(c) to institute an inquiry into the affairs of any market committee, the enquiring officer having the same powers, as are vested in a court under the Court of Civil Procedure, 1908, when trying a suit, in respect of the maters referred to in sub-section (2) of section 24 of this Act,
(cc) to approve the place or places of transaction in agricultural produce within such distance of a principal market yard or sub-market yard as may be determined by the market committee,
(d) for carrying out the purposes of this Act, to issue directions, from time to time, to the market committees, to be binding upon such committees, and
(e) to do in relation to, or in connection with, the regulation of marketing of agricultural produce in West Bengal, such other acts as the Board may deem necessary.
(2) It shall be duty of the Board -
(a) to supervise, control and co-ordinate the activities of the market committees,
(aa) to review the requirements of persons using a market and to direct the market committee to provide facilities for the marketing of agricultural produce,
(aaa) to approve the programme drawn up by a market committee for the purpose of providing facilities to persons using the market area,
(b) to provide for expert technical assistance or guidance for efficient working of the market committees,
(c) for the efficient functioning of the market committees, to arrange for the training of the officers, employees and technical personnel of such
committees, and, if necessary, to establish under its direct charge and control, for such training purposes, and for affording practical guidance to such committees, a model market in accordance with the provisions of this Act,
(d) to educate the public and impress upon them the advantages and merits of petronising the markets established by the market committees,
(e) to collect and furnish such statistics and marketing information in relation to or in connection with market committees including the market established by such committees as may be required by the Board for its efficient and effective functioning under this Act and to publish and disseminate for the benefit of the general public any statistics and marketing information, and such other instructions as may be issued by the Board from time to time,
(f) to help the market committees with expert advice and guidance in grading and standardisation of the agricultural produce and to bring about, as far as practicable, uniformity in respect thereof in all the markets established by the market committees in the State,
(g) to initiate, from time to time, such other actions as the State Government or the Board may deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act.
(3) (a) If the State Government considers it necessary so to do, it may, by notification, delegate, subject to such restrictions as it may deem fit to impose, to the Board all or any of the powers exercisable by it by or under this Act.
(b) While exercising the powers referred to in clause (a), the Board shall be under the control of State Government.
36 D.Delegation of the Board’s powers and duties.
For the purpose of efficiently discharging its business under this Act, the Board may, from time to time, by order, delegate, under such restrictions, if any, as it may think fit to impose, any off its powers duties conferred and impose on itby it on this Act to the Chairman of the Board or to Secretary of the Board or to the Chief Executive Officer, or to any other officer of the Board or to a sub-committee or sub-committees formed amongest the members of the Board.
36E.Chief Executive Officer and other officers and employees of the Board.
(1)The Board shall have a Chief Executive Officer to be appointed by the State Government on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed.
(2) The Board may, for the efficient discharge of its business, appoint other officer, technical personnel and employees under such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Board with the approval of the State Government.
(3) The Chief Executive Officer and other officers, technical personnel and employees of the Board shall discharge such duties as may be entrusted to term by the Board.
36F.. Power to borrow money.
(1)For carrying out the purposes of this Act, the Board may, with the previous approval of the State Government, raise loan in the open market or from any financial institution, and the State Government may stand guarantee for payment of the principal amount of such loan and for payment of interest, subject to such terms and conditions it may determine.
(2) The State Government may advance money or grant loans to the Board on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the State Government.
(3) The Board may advance money or grant loans to the market committees, subject to the terms and conditions as the Board may determine.
(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, every debt arising out of any loan taken by the Board from the State Government or any financial institution for carrying out the purposes of this Act shall –
(a) have priority over all other debts whether secured or unsecured, and
(b) be a preferential debt within the meaning of section 530 of the Companies Act, 1956
and such debts shall rank equally among themselves and be paid in full out of the assets of the Board unless such assets are insufficient to meet them, in which the case they shall abate in equal proportion.
36G.Fund of the Board.
(1)The Board shall have a fund to be called the West Bengal State Marketing Board fund.
2. (a) All moneys received by the Board shall be paid into the West Bengal State Marketing Board fund and expenditure incurred by the Board under or for the purpose of this Act shall be defrayed out of the said fund..
(b) The West Bengal State Marketing Board fund shall be operated by the Chief Executive Officer of the Board jointly with such an official member of the Board as the Board may determine and the accounts thereof shall be kept in such manner as may be approved by the Board:
Provided that the Board may also authorise another official member to operate the fund jointly with the Chief Executive Officer in case of absence of the official member determined in the aforesaid manner.
(c) A copy of the audited accounts, along with auditor’s report there to shall be, as soon as may be forwarded to the State Government, and any direction issued by the State Government in relation thereto, shall be forthwith carried out by the Board.
(d) The accounts of the Board in respect of each market year shall be audited within three months of the closing of the market year, by such auditor as may be approved by the State Government, and the fees payable to such auditor and the other expenditure incurred for audit shall be paid out of the West Bengal State Marketing Board fund.
(e) The Board shall cause to be produced all accounts, registers, documents, vouchers, receipts and other relevant papers which may be called for by the auditor for the purpose of audit. Any explanation called for by the Auditor for the settlement of any discrepancy in the accounts shall be immediately furnished to him.
(f) The auditor shall have the same rights and privileges and authority in connection with audit of the accounts of the Board as the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India has with the audit of Government accounts.
(g) The West Bengal State Marketing Board fund shall be applied to enable the Boardto carry out the purposes of this act.
(3) The West Bengal State Marketing Board fund shall be utilised for the following
(i) better marketing of agricultural produce;
(ii) marketing of agricultural produce on co-operative lines and assisting the co-operative marketing societies in the procurement of produce belonging to small and marginal farmers and their disposal:
Explanation – In this clause, “small farmer” shall mean a farmer who possesses more than two hectares but less than four hectares if he is a member of any of the Scheduled Tribes, and more than one hectare but less than two hectares in other cases, of land, either as an owner or as a raiyat or as a share-cropper and “marginal farmer” shall mean a farmer who possesses no more than two hectares if he is a member of any of the Scheduled Tribes, and one hectare in other cases, of land, either as an owner or as a rayat or as share-cropper;
(iii) taking of steps to stop distress sale in conjunction with other agencies State or Central;
(iv) provision for transport and storage facilities;
(v) collection and dissemination of market rates and news;
(vi) grading and standardisation of agricultural produce;
(vii) general improvements in the markets or the respective market areas;
(viii) participation in any scheme designed to augment and improve production and betterment of agricultural produce;
(ix) subsidising the implementation of production oriented schemes such as small irrigation, spraying, drainage, in the hinterland of the market;
(x) acquisition, establishment or management of the retail markets periodic hats and fairs located in the market areas;
(xi) maintenance of the office of the Board and constructions and repair of its office buildings, rest house and staff quarters;
(xii) giving aid to financially weak market committees in the shape of loans and grants;
(xiii) payment of salary, leave allowance, gratuity, compassionate allowance, compensation for injuries or death resulting from accidents while on duty, medical allowance and pension or provident fund to the persons employed by the board and leave and pension contribution to Government servants on deputation;
(xiv) payment of travelling and other allowances to the members of the Board, its officers and employees;
(xv) carrying out of propaganda, demonstration and publicity in favour of agricultural improvements;
(xvi) meeting any legal expenses incurred by the Board;
(xvii) imparting education in marketing or agriculture;
(xviii) construction of godowns;
(xix) granting of loans and advances to the employees;
(xx) meeting expenses incurred in auditing the accounts of the Board;
(xxi) carrying out, with the previous sanction of the State Government any other purpose which is calculated to promote the general interest of the Board and the market committee or the national or public interest.
(1) The Chairman shall, at a special meeting to be held for the purpose before the fifteenth day of December in each year, lay before the Board a budget of the Board for the next market year.
(2) The Board shall, within the seventh day of January in each year, consider the budget laid before it and accept it with or without modification.
(3) Every budget as accepted by the Board shall be immediately submitted to the State Government, and the State Government may, as expeditiously as possible, sanction the budget and accepted by the Board or return it to the Board for marking such modifications therein as the State Government may deem fit to specify.
(4) Where a budget is returned to the Board by the State Government for making any modification therein, the Board shall forthwith make such modification and submit the budget as so modified to the State Government and the State Government may, then, as expeditiously as possible, sanction the same.
(5) The Chairman may, at any time during the year for which a budget has been sanctioned by the State Government, lay before the Board a supplementary budget, and the provision of sub-section (2), sub-section (3) and sub-section (4) shall mutates mutandis apply to such supplementary budget.
(6) No sum shall be expended by or on behalf of the Board unless the expenditure is covered by a specific provision of the budget sanctioned by the State Government:
Provided that the Board may sanction any reappropriation 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 State Government.
36 l.Supersession of the Board
(1) If at any time the State Government considers it necessary so to do in the public interest, it may, by notification, supersede the Board, 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 Board until it is so reconstituted.
(2) For the avoidance of doubts it is hereby declared that a notification of suppression under subsection (1) shall not effect or imply in any way the dissolution of the Board as a body corporate.
36J. Furnishing of information by the Board.
The Board shall furnish such information in connection with its duties and functions as the State Government or any officer appointed by the State Government in its behalf may call for.
36K.Annual administration report.
At the end of each market year, the Board shall, as soon as may be, submit to the State Government an annual administration report in respect of working of the Board and the State Government shall, as soon as may be, lay the said report before the State Legislative Assembly.
36L.Execution of contract.
(1) Every contract required to be entered into by the Board shall be in writing and signed on behalf of the Board by its Chairman and two other members.
(2) No contract other than a contract as provided in sub-section (1) shall be binding on the Board.
36M.Recovery of sums due
Every sums due to the Board under this Act shall be recoverable
as an arrear of land revenue under the provisions of the Bengal Public Demands Recovery Act, 1913.
36N.Members, officer and employee of the Board to be public servants.
Every member of the Board and every officer and employee of the Board shall be deemed to be a public servant within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code.
36O. Bar of suits in absence of notice.
No person shall bring any suit against the Board or against any officer or employee of the Board or any person acting under the orders of the Board for anything done or purporting to have been done in pursuance of this Act without giving the Board, officer, employee or person two months’, previous notice in writing of the intended suit and of the cause thereof, or after the expiry of a period of six months from the date of the act complained of.
36P.Power of State Government to hold enquiry.
(1) The State Government, with a view to satisfying itself that the powers and duties of the Board are exercised and performed properly, may, at any time, appoint any person or person to make inquiries into all or any of the activities of the Board in such manner as may be prescribed and to report to the State Government the result of such inquiries.
(2) The Board shall give to the person or persons so appointed all facilities for the proper conduct of the inquiries and shall produce before the person and persons any document or information in the possession of the Board, if such person or persons so demand for the purpose of such inquiries.
37. Act to override other laws.
The provisions of this Act shall have effect not withstanding anything to the country contained in any other law or in any contract, express or implied, or any instrument and notwithstanding any custom or usage to the contrary.
38. Power to make rules.
(1) The State Government may, by notification, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of following matters namely:-
(a) the manner of controlling, regulating and running a market, settling disputes between buyers and sellers, promoting, grading and standardisation of agricultural produce, other duties and functions of the market committee, the manner of inspection and verification of scales, weights and measures, books of accounts and other documents, and manner of delegating functions by a marketing committee in favour of sub-committee, referred to in clauses (iv), (vii), (ix), (xii), and (xiv) of sub-section (1), and sub-section (2) respectively of section 12;
(b) form of application for obtaining a licence and the fee payable for it, from for granting a licence and the terms and conditions subject to which the licence is to be granted the manner of showing cause against cancellation of a licence, the manner of appeal, and the fee payable for a duplicate licence and the manner of issuing a duplicate licence, referred to in sub-sections (2), (3), (6), (6A) and (8) respectively of section 13;
(c) terms and conditions for the appointment of a Secretary and the payment of leave allowance, pension, gratuity and provident fund to the officers and employees of the market committee referred to in sub-section (1) and (4) respectively and the manner and time of appeal referred to in sub-section (5) of section 14;
(d) the manner of utilising surplus fund of the market committee referred to in section 19;
(e) travelling and other allowances of the members of the market committee and the manner of keeping and auditing accounts of the market committee referred to in clause (vii) of sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) of section 20;
(ee) the manner and time of appeal referred to in subsection (3) of section 27;
(h) the number of members necessary to form a quorum referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (4), and the times and places and the rules of procedure in regard to the transaction of business to be observed, referred to in sub-section (5) of section 36A;
(h1) the terms and conditions of appointment of the Chief Executive Officer referred to in sub-section (1) of section 36E;
(h2) the manner in which the surplus mentioned in clause (a) of sub-section (2) of section 36G shall be utilized and the manner in which accounts of the Board referred to in clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 36G is to be kept;
(h3) the manner in which inquiries into all or any of the activities of the Board shall be made under sub-section (1) of section 36P;
(i) any other mater which has to be or may be prescribed.
38A.Power to make bye-laws.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act and the rules made there-under a market committee may make bye-laws for –
(a) the regulation and conduct of its business,
(b) the conditions of trading in market area, or
(c) any other matter for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
(2) Any bye-law made by a market committee shall be forwarded by it to the Board for approval. If the Board is satisfied that the proposed bye-law is not contrary to the provisions of this Act or the rules made thereunder, it shall register such bye-law within a period of three months.
From the date of receipt thereof and forward to the market committee a copy of the bye-law so registered together with a certificate of such registration, and such certificate shall be conclusive evidence that the bye-law has been duly registered.
(3) If it appears to the Board that an amendment of the bye-law forwarded to it by a market committee under sub-section (2) or rescission of an existing bye-law or adoption of a new bye-law or adoption of a new bye-law is necessary in the interest of such market committee or the persons using the market, the Board may, by an order in writing direct such market committee to amend such bye-law or to rescind the existing bye-law or to adopt a new bye-law, as the case may be, within such period as may be specified in such order.
(4) If the market committee fails to make any such amendment, rescission or adoption within the period specified in the order referred to in sub-section (3), the Board may, after giving such market committee an opportunity of being heard, register such amendment, rescission or new bye-law so registered together with a certificate of such registration which shall be conclusive evidence that the amendment, rescission or adoption has been duly registered and shall be binding upon the market committee.
39. Repeal and Savings.
(1) The West Bengal Market Regulation Act, 1970 is hereby repealed.
(2) Any market committee constituted, any rule or notification issued, any order made, anything done or any action taken under the said Act shall be deemed to have been validity constituted, issued, made, done or taken under the corresponding provision of this Act as if this Act were in force on the day on which such market committee was constituted, such rule or notification was issued, such order was made, such thing was done or such action was taken.
(3) (a) All properties and assets vested in a market committee constituted under the said Act (here in after called the old market committee) and all rights, liabilities and obligation acquired, accrued or incurred, by transferred to the corresponding market committee or committees constituted under this Act, and where there are more than one corresponding market committees, such properties, assets, rights, liabilities and obligations of the old market committee shall, by an order, be equitably divided by the director amongst the corresponding market committees, and the properties, assists, rights, liabilities and obligations allotted by the Director to each of such corresponding market committees shall vest in such corresponding market committee;
Provided that no under this clause shall be made by the Director without giving each of the corresponding market committees an opportunity of being heard.
(b) An order of the Director made under clause (a) shall be final and shall not be liable to be questioned in any court of law.
(4) All contracts entered into by or on behalf of any market committee constituted under the said Act, before the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to have been entered into by the corresponding market committee or committees constituted under this Act.
(5) All legal proceedings or remedies instituted or enforceable by or against any market committee before the commencement of this Act may be continued or enforced, as the case may be, by or against the corresponding market committee or committees constituted under this Act.