The Calcutta High Court has asked the jute balers to declare their raw jute stock within seven days from December 14, failing which the Jute Commissioner’s (JC) office will be allowed to continue search and seizure to control price rigging.
Raw jute prices, in the open market, touched Rs 6,025 per quintal against a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 4,425 per quintal. This affected in a price increase by Rs 53 per jute bag thereby also increasing the Centre’s subsidy burden. On November 6, the office of the jute commissioner issued an order for traders to bring down raw jute stock to up to 500 quintals and also started a search and seized 7,500 quintals of raw jute from various godowns.
The Jute Balers Association challenging the JC’s order and move filed a writ petition at the Calcutta High Court, against which the HC on Monday had passed an order directing the jute balers to comply with the JC’s November 6 order. But the jute balers could apply within seven days of the HC’s order seeking time extension for complying with the November 6 order.
The HC said that the application to the JC “shall contain the name of each of its (The Jute Balers Association) members and the quantum of raw jute stock held by each of the members.”
“In the event, the application is not made by the petitioner (The Jute Balers Association) within the aforesaid seven days, the Jute Commissioner shall be at liberty to proceed by law against the members of the association, including coercive measure,” the order said.
Koushik Chakraborty, deputy jute commissioner told FE that according to the HC order the extension limit shall be decided by the JC. The time limit would be decided based on the stock held by each jute baler or trader and the time it would take to bring down the stock to 500 quintals each trader.
While the Jute Balers Association (JBA) didn’t want to comment anything on the issue, an Indian Jute Mills Association representative on the condition of anonymity said already four jute mills have closed down for high prices and supply constraint of raw jute. It is necessary to prevent hoarding to ease both prices and supplies. “If prices don’t come down, there are possibilities of more jute mills closing down,” he said.
Prices of TD grade raw jute is at Rs 6,000/ quintal as of Tuesday.
Earlier, the JBA had also gone on a strike stopping supplies of raw jute to the mills but at the request of the GOM on jute and tea, headed by West Bengal finance and industry minister Amit Mitra, the traders withdrew strike. The GOM will meet on December 21 next to review the supply and price situation.