A nexus of individuals and groups are taking advantage of inactive machineries such as law, regulation, policy, regulatory and monitoring body of the government in controlling prices of the essential commodities, said the High Court on Monday.
A bench of Justice Farah Mahbub and Justice SM Moniruzzaman made the remarks while hearing a writ petition seeking directions to set up a monitoring cell to control soybean oil prices in the market for the second day.
"We have law, organization, everything but failure to execute the hoarders courage to take control of the market," the bench said.
"It's not a one-day job to control or monitor the market so we want the machinaries to be active 365 days a year and effective steps are needed to activate them," said the court.
Deputy Attorney General Pratikar Chakma opposed the writ petition saying the government has taken steps to control the market as prices of soybean oil, other essential commodities are under control already.
He said "Issuing a rule on this writ petition will not be right after the government has taken a decision to form a taskforce to monitor the market."
The court then questioned how the anti-competition nexus is being defined here.
In 2012, the Competition ACT was enacted but there is no implementation of it, said the court.
It said, "The government is fixing the prices of daily essentials and behind its back a group jointly hoarding the goods and raising the prices. Legal actions have to be taken against those who are usurping the money of people. Monitoring only during Ramadan will not work as it is a daily work," to the state side.
The court adjourned the hearing for Monday, asking the petitioner's lawyer to make corrections in the petition as it doesn't mention about price hike of other essentials except edible oil.
Earlier on March 6, Supreme Court lawyers Monir Hossain, Syed Mohidul Kabir and Mohammad Ullah filed the writ petition in the public interest.
The secretary of Commerce Ministry, Consumer Rights Authority and others were made respondents in the petition.
On March 3, the three lawyers brought the issue of soybean oil price hike to the notice of HC following a report published in an English daily about the hike in the price of soybean oil.
According to the report, a group of traders in Bangladesh has raised the price of soybean oil at an unusual rate, taking advantage of the Russia-Ukraine war.
On March 2, the price of a liter of loose soybean was charged at Tk 175 from the buyers in the market that is fixed at Tk 143 by the government.
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