HC seeks report on action against PDS rice smugglers

Chennai: Taking a serious view of the illegal and fraudulent sale of PDS rice, the Madras High Court Monday directed the Additional Public Prosecutor to file a report on the loss caused to the exchequer and the steps against those smuggling the essential commodity.

A division bench, comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and P Rajamanickam, was disposing of a habeas corpus petition by Sowjanya, wife of Amarnath of Vellore district, challenging his detention under the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act 1980.

The bench directed the Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) to also file details from where the rice had been bought by Amarnath and who sold it to him. The bench then posted the petition for further hearing to 22 October.

A habeas corpus plea is a petition which is filed to ensure a person under arrest is brought before a court which will determine whether the detention is legal. Also, it directed the APP to file a report on how many cases were registered in rice smuggling for the past 10 years and what was the volume of rice seized from the smugglers each year.

Amarnath was arrested for allegedly smuggling the rice and lodged in Vellore prison and his bail plea dismissed on 30 August. He was detained as a black marketer under the Act on 31 August on the orders of the Vellore collector.

Sowjanya, in her petition, submitted that the detention order was bad in law and “there is no compelling necessity to pass the order under the head of black marketer.” She said the authorities have failed to follow statutory procedures prescribed under the Act at the time of passing order and sought to set it aside.