Food adulteration: People of J&K have been left at the mercy of God, says HC

Food adulteration: People of J&K have been left at the mercy of God, says HC

MDs of food units to give undertaking that if their items are found adulterated, their units liable to be sealed

Srinagar: Stating that every human being has inherent and inalienable right to lead a healthy life, the J&K High Court on Thursday said that people of Jammu and Kashmir have been left at the mercy of god as there are no laboratories and other paraphernalia available to check food adulterations in the state.
“The status report by (the government) is sufficient to indicate that the people of the state have been left at the mercy of god. For checking of adulterated food, there are neither effective and adequate laboratories nor the requisite equipments. Besides this, even the manpower in terms of the Food Safety and Standard Act (FSSA) 2006 is not available,” a division bench of the court comprising justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey said while hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation.
The court said that a human being is the superior creation of the almighty Allah and has “a natural right to lead his life in a pure manner”.
“Article 21 of the constitution, which recognizes the right to life, by judicial engineer has been further chiseled to mean right to live a meaningful life. No one has a right to manufacture, produce and sell adulterated food as it has direct impact on the human health,” the court said.
Every human being, it said, has inherent and inalienable right to lead a healthy life. “This right however, is abridged by soulless persons by producing, manufacturing, supplying unsafe and adulterated food. These abominable commercial practices are being indulged into, to bound worldly possessions which, however, one has to leave here and pass on to another world empty handed,” the court said and passed as many as six directions for effective implementation of the FSSA 2006 and to ensure the menace of supplying adulterated food to the consumers is, at once, stopped and an increase in the rate of fatal diseases is arrested.
In the first direction, the court made Chief Secretary, Commissioner Secretary Health, Commissioner Food Safety, Financial Commissioner (planning) and owners and MDs of food manufacturing or processing units, whose details have been given by the government in the status report, as party to the PIL.
“The Chief Secretary and other aforesaid authorities to remain present before the Court on next date of hearing (May 4),” the court said.
In the third direction, the court directed owners, MDs of food manufacturing or processing units to file affidavits by or before May 4, indicating as to how and in which manner, they are following the provisions of the FSSA 2006.
“They shall also provide information about the laboratories set up in their Units, the equipment installed and the number of persons, having expertise in accordance with FSSA 2006, working in such laboratories.”
In the forth direction, the companies, corporations or individuals dealing in different kinds of milk have been asked to indicate in their affidavits as to how much milk they are supplying each day along with the sources of procurement.
“All the owners, MDs of Food Manufacturing or processing units shall file undertaking before the Registrar Judicial, satisfying therein that they will supply food items fit for human consumption to consumers. They shall also undertake that in the event it is, prima facie, found that food item are adulterated, then their units may be liable to be sealed,” the court said in the penultimate direction.
Lastly, it directed all the hoteliers, restaurants owners and shop keepers to ensure that adulterated or unsafe food is not supplied to the consumers.
Referring to the stay orders by Apex Court in a separate PIL which was filed in 2012 by a practicing lawyer S M Ayoub, the court said: “The staying of proceedings in PIL 01/2012 by the Supreme Court would not prevent this Court from making up the cause of the people of the State, who are continuously made to consume the adulterated foods and some of the persons, companies continue to manufacture, produce and process adulterated food items.”
“The order of the Apex Court would not be deemed to have given the license to such manufactures to process and manufacture adulterated food. The Act of 2006 is not stayed by the Supreme Court,” the division bench said.
The highest court of India had stayed the high court’s December 23, 2013 order after it directed three food processing units, one of them from New Delhi, to show cause as to why they shall not be asked to deposit Rs 10 crore each with SKIMS Srinagar for treatment of those suffering from fatal diseases. The high court had passed the order based on laboratory tests, confirming presence of chemical elements which are highly unfit for human consumption.

Directions and observations

Chief Secretary, 5 officers besides owners, MDs of Food Manufacturing/Processing units made party to PIL on food adulteration

Chief Secretary to appear in court on May 4

Owners/MDs of food manufacturing/processing units to give information about the laboratories set up in their units

Companies /individuals dealing in different kinds of milk to give sources of its procurement

All owners, MDs of food manufacturing/processing units to give undertaking that they will supply food items fit for humans and if found adulterated, their units will be sealed

Hoteliers, restaurants owners and shop keepers to ensure safe food to consumers

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