Rubber is an essential part of our day-to-day life and is used in various products such as clothes, toys, footwear, tyres, defence equipment, and many more. The Indian rubber industry is the third-largest producer of rubber in the world and employs an estimated 3 million workers. For an industry of this scale, legislation is necessary for regulating and managing the interests of various stakeholders.
The Rubber Act of 1947 was enacted to develop the rubber industry and ensure interested parties, such as growers, plantation owners, traders, could benefit from it. The Act has given powers to the Central Government to draft policies to help the rubber industry grow. The Rubber Board provides licences, assistance, training, market opportunities, and funds to rubber growers.
Table of Contents
The Rubber Act, 1947
The Rubber Act came into force on 18 April 1947 and was enacted for the development of the rubber industry in India and extends to the whole of India.
Rubber is defined as follows:
- Product prepared from a rubber plant’s leaves, bark, or latex.
- Latex of a rubber plant in any stage of treatment.
- Dry rubber content.
Rubber plant is defined as plants, trees, shrubs, or vines of the following:
- Para rubber tree, scientifically known as Hevea braziliensis
- Ceara rubber tree, scientifically known as Manihot glaziovii
- Panama rubber tree, scientifically known as Castillio elastica
- Rambong tree, scientifically known as Ficus elastica
Overview of the Act
The Rubber Act established The Rubber Board, which functions under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. The Act contains 28 sections and deals with the sections related to the constitution of the Board, its powers and duties, licensing procedure, registration of growers, penalties for contravention and jurisdiction of the appropriate court. The Central Government can fix the price of rubber. The Government can also issue directions for grading and marketing of rubber.
Key Provisions Under the Act
Any person owning land with a rubber plantation had to register with the Rubber Board within 1 month of implementing the Act.
The registration continues in perpetuity until cancellation by the Board. Section 16 requires a person other than the owner or occupant of the rubber estate to acquire a general or special licence from the Board for the possession of rubber.
Section 14 of the Act deals with the licensing of transactions in rubber. A person has to receive a general or special licence from the Board for selling, purchasing, acquiring, and disposing rubber. The licence is published in the Official Gazette of India and any newspaper as directed by the Board.
The special licence is for a specific period. The Board can extend the validity of such a licence as and when required.
Section 17 of the Act deals with licences for planting and replanting. A person can only plant or replant rubber trees as per the special licence granted to him by the Board. These special licences are non-transferable.
Fixation of Price by the Central Government
The Central Government can fix the maximum and minimum price for the sale of rubber through a notification in the Official Gazette. Any person who sells or buys the rubber at a price lower than the minimum or higher than the maximum price can be punished with imprisonment of up to 1 year, or a fine, or both.
Inspection of Land and Premises
The Central Government or the Board may authorise any person to inspect the premises or land of any dealer or any factory dealing in rubber. Inspections are performed to verify the financial statements and any other records submitted to the Board.
Powers of the Central Government
- The Government can suspend, modify, or cancel any action of the Board.
- The Government can issue directions to the Board to function as per the policies of Government.
- Section 25 of the Act empowers the Government to make rules on the following:
- Decide the term of office bearers of the Board, filling up vacancies and circumstances requiring termination of membership of any member,
- Determine the meeting procedures for the Board and its committee,
- Preparation of budgetary estimate,
- Maintenance of financial reports by the Board,
- Powers of Chairman, Board members, and committees regarding expenditure,
- Powers and duties of Executive Directors, Rubber Production Commissioners, and Secretaries of the Board,
- Purposes of the utilisation of funds of the Board,
- Conditions for making expenditures outside India by the Board,
- Conditions for borrowing funds by the Board,
- Collection of statistical information regarding rubber production and usage.
Jurisdiction of the Court
The Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and any superior court can punish any person who contravenes the provisions of the Act.
The Rubber Board
As per Section 4 of the Act, the Central Government can constitute the Rubber Board with the following members:
- A Chairman appointed by the Central Government.
- An Executive Director
- The Rubber Production Commissioner is also on Board.
- Two members represent the state of Tamil Nadu. One such member represents the interests of the rubber producer.
- Eight members represent the state of Kerala. Six such members should represent the rubber producer’s interests, out of which three members represent small rubber growers.
- The Central Government nominates 13 members. Of them, two members represent manufacturers, four represent labour, two represent the Department of Commerce, and one member represents the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation.
- The Board also includes three members of Parliament. Two of these members are elected by the Lok Sabha, and the Rajya Sabha elects the other one.
Funds of the Board
The Board is required to maintain two funds, namely the General Fund and the Pool Fund.
The General Fund is the total of all the funds of the Board before implementing the Rubber (Production and Marketing) Amendment Act, 1954 and the fund provided by the Central Government.
The funds are used to satisfy the day-to-day expenses of the Board and provide assistance to the rubber estates. The Pool Fund includes the proceeds from the sale of the rubber purchased or imported by the Board and any fund transferred from the general funds to this fund. The fund is used for the rehabilitation of small rubber growers.
Duties and responsibilities of Board Members
The Board members are responsible for promoting measures for the development of the rubber industry and can provide for the following measures:
- Members are responsible for encouraging and undertaking technological and scientific research to explore new avenues for the rubber industry. They also research the economic viability of the rubber industry and ways to increase economic output.
- Members also undertake training programmes for students on improved cultivation and plantation methods of rubber plants.
- Members provide technical advice and assistance to rubber growers on new cultivation methods and crop protection from pests, insects, and diseases.
- Members are also responsible for improving rubber quality and providing quality standards for rubber products. They set standards for the import and export of rubber in India.
- Members collect statistical data from growers, suppliers, manufacturers.
- The members conduct market studies to improve market conditions for rubber products. They also assist in the export of rubber from India.
- Members work to improve the conditions of workers engaged in the rubber industry. They propose measures to the Central Government to provide better amenities and working conditions to the labour and other workers engaged in growing, processing, manufacturing and trading rubber.
- The board members are also responsible for advising the Central Government on matters concerning the rubber industry and its development.
- They also advise the Government on participating in International conferences and summits on the development of the rubber industry.
- The members are required to submit periodic reports of their work to the Central Government.
- The Board can import rubber from outside India and purchase it from the domestic market for sale at a fixed price.
- The Board conducts research for expanding rubber cultivation outside traditional rubber-growing states.
Penalty and Punishment for Non-Compliance
A person is liable for punishment under the Act in case of the following:
- Persons contravened with any provision of the Act, except Sections 11 and 13.
- Persons making a false statement in a report to be furnished by him.
- Persons obstructing any officer of the Board in the discharge of his duty.
- Persons failing to furnish any account book or record when they are required to do so.
Such a person could be punished with a year of imprisonment, a fine of up to Rs 1000, or both.
The Rubber Act has resulted in the development of a robust and resilient rubber industry. In India, the rubber industry has an annual turnover of Rs 12000 cr. India is one of the largest exporters of natural rubber. This industry is highly profitable because of the combined efforts of growers, traders, manufacturers, the Rubber Board, and the Government. The Board is stringent in ensuring full compliance with the Act.
The Act also ensures the representation of the rubber producer states on the Board and considers the interest of the growers, manufacturers, and labourers engaged in the rubber industry.
However, the Act should be amended to meet the demands of today’s dynamic market. Simplifying the registration and licensing procedure is crucial to make them more convenient for growers and traders. Better implementation of the penal provisions can curb violations of the Act.
FAQs on the Rubber Act
Under which Ministry does the Rubber Board function?
The Rubber Board functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
What are the licensing requirements under the Act?
As per the provisions of the Act, a person has to acquire either a general or special licence from the Board to plant and replant rubber, sell or dispose of rubber and possess rubber. The owner of a rubber estate is also required to obtain a licence.
What is the jurisdiction of the court under the Act?
As per section 27A of the Act, no court below the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class or Chief Metropolitan Magistrate can punish an offender under the Act.
What are the penalties under the Act?
Under Section 26 of the Act, a person violating any provision of this Act, furnishing any false information or obstructing any authorised officer of the Board can be imprisoned for up to 1 year or a fine of not more than Rs 1000 or both.