Chandigarh, Dec 22 (UNI) The Haryana government has promulgated an ordinance to amend the various provisions of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961 (PAPM Act, 1961).
In case of evasion of market fee the provision of prosecution and imprisonment for a period of upto 6 months has been deleted in the amended act and in its place a penalty clause has been introduced, Agriculture Minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha said today.
Before the amendment, there was a provision of only Rs 500 as composition fee in case of evasion of market fee of any amount as per the Act. This lax provision facilitated the evasion of market fee by the traders due to no fear of penalty.
As per the latest ordinance, in case of evasion, a penalty ranging from 50 per cent upto 100 per cent of the evaded market fee could be imposed.
Mr Chatha said due care had been taken to ensure that the trader was not unnecessarily harassed. Therefore, a provision had been made, according to which the officer detecting the evasion and the one imposing the penalty would be different.
This would mean that in case the evasion was detected by the Secretary of the Market Committee, the penalty would be imposed by the next higher officer that is the District Marketing Enforcement Officer.
A provision had also been made to afford right of being heard to the trader, he added.
The Agriculture Minister said that right to appeal had also been provided in the new ordinance and all such appeals against the orders of the subordinate officers would lie with the Chief Administrator, within a period of 30 days from the date of supply of certified copy of the order.
However, such appeals would lie only on payment of market fee due, as per the detection made by the officer detecting the evasion.
He said that in case of failure of payment of due market fee, a provision of payment of interest on the amount due had also been made which was not existing in the PAPM Act, 1961. The Government had also been empowered to take suo-moto cognizance of any case and call for the record or an order passed by the Board or the Chief Administrator.
The Government had been empowered to review its own orders.
He said that it had also been provided in the ordinance that any order passed under this Act would not be called in question in any civil court.
However, it had been provided in the ordinance that no penalty would be imposed after the expiry of a period of five years of any contravention of the Act.
The ordinance also provided for penalties upto Rs 10,000 in case of violation of other terms and conditions of the licence granted to the traders for conduct of business, which would be in addition to the penalty imposed on account of evasion of market fee.