The Metropolitan Police Range (MPR), Teku, is preparing to file cases against the unscrupulous traders of Durbar Marg, who have been accused of charging exorbitant prices for the goods they were selling. Based on an investigation carried out by police so far, the traders are likely to be penalised under the Black Marketing and Some Other Social Offences and Punishment Act, said the police range.
On September 4, a market monitoring team led by Supplies Minister Shiva Prasad Mandal had raided nine branded goods stores in Durbar Marg and sealed them for charging exorbitant prices. The outlets include stores selling products of international brands like Nike, Reebok, Puma, Bentley and Levi’s among others. These stores were found charging up to 2,300 percent of their cost price on the goods they were selling.
Following the government action, the retailers in Durbar Marg had closed their businesses for four days. But they reopened the stores after four days. After 20 days, the sealed shops were also allowed to resume their businesses as per the orders from Minister Mandal.
SSP Rabindra Bahadur Dhanuk, chief of the MPR, said police started investigation after the Department of Supplies Management (DoSM) handed over related documents to the security agency. According to him, the department has handed over documents of 14 traders based in Durbar Marg and New Road among others, recommending filing cases under black-marketing.
“Of them, eight are from Durbar Marg, two are operating in New Road and the rest are from other areas,” Dhanuk said.
It was the first time that the government authority has initiated action against the branded stores. However, the issue has drawn criticism from the people after Minister Mandal subsequently issued orders to allow the shops in question to resume businesses without taking any legal action.
DoSM Director General Kumar Prasad Dahal said the department has handed over the case to police via the District Administration Office, Kathmandu. “We have sought police help,” Dahal said.
DSP Bed Bahadur Pandey, an investigation officer at the MPR, said cases have been filed at the police range. “We are now in the process of seeking clarification from the concerned stores,” he said.
Pandey said during preliminary investigation police found that almost all the stores were charging 20 percent more than the cost price. “Had the department involved police also in the monitoring, it would have been easier for us to handle the case,” said Pandey, adding that the police would carry out their own enquiry in order to gather more evidence.