Essential Commodities Act, 1955: Explained - ForumIAS

Essential Commodities Act, 1955: Explained

The act was frequently in news because of the recent additions to ECA List by the government. Compiling here all the relevant and important information wrt. the act.



Essential Commodities Act, 1955 is a law that has helped the government regulate the production, supply and distribution of ‘essential’ commodities such as drugs, oils, kerosene, coal, iron, steel and pulses. 


When India was emerging from the aftermath of Partition and shortages, the objective was to protect citizens from exploitation by unscrupulous traders. The executive tool of regulation was to control the hoarding of a commodity. Hand in hand with the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980, government officials could detain or imprison hoarders.

Administrative Authorities & Powers

  • Only Central Government can include items in ECA Schedule and to remove them from the list once the crisis is over or the situation improves. 
  • The enforcement/implementation of the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 lies with the State Governments and UT Administrations.
  • Department of Consumer Affairs administers ‘The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (EC Act)’ and ‘Prevention of   Black- marketing  and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980 (PBMMSEC Act)’. 
  • Whenever there are pressing reasons to arrest unfair price rise of any essential commodity, the Union Government empowers State Governments and Union Territories, by way of notifying orders under the EC Act, to decide stock limits and notify after approval of the Union Government.
  • Agencies of state governments and Union Territory administrations are empowered to conduct raids to catch violators. The government can confiscate excess stock hoarded by retailers/traders/manufacturers, and either auction it or sell it through fair-price shops.

Other important Information

  • The government can also fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”. 
Write your comment…