Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday directed government to fully equip food testing laboratories and provide manpower to mobile testing vans in the state.
Hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also directed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), food regulator, to depute a qualified person to these laboratories to find out whether they fulfill the requirements under Food Safety and Standards Act.
In this regard, the court directed advocate M I Dar, counsel for state, to communicate the order to the CEO for information.
It also directed government to create post for Food Safety Commissioner after being informed that the charge for post was currently held by Commissioner Secretary Health Department.
Besides, the court directed government to fill up 36 posts of food safety officers. 70 posts have been filled up.
The direction followed submission by state counsel that 36 posts of FSOs have been referred to Service Selection Board. The court also enquired from Controller Food Safety, who was present in the court, whether FSOs, who are in place, were fully qualified for the post. The CFS replied in affirmative.
Meantime the court was informed about the steps taken for controlling the food adulteration. As per a status report filed by the government, a number of samples have been taken in Jammu and Srinagar. It was also informed that cases have been filed against those who have been found to be selling sub-standard food while lakhs of rupees have been realized as penalty from the erring traders.
“Penalty is not enough…. If a child is given substandard food, what would happen to him?” the court said.
Giving the details from March 2016 to March this year, the court was informed that 2179 samples have been lifted in Jammu division. 1806 samples have been tested and 365 of them have been found in contravention of FSSA, it said. So far as in Kashmir division, the government said that 1594 samples have been lifted. 1150 samples have been tested and 241 of them have been found in contravention of FSSA, it said.
Prosecution has been launched against 156 and 260 In Kashmir and Jammu respectively. Rs 55500 and Rs 8,34,500 have been imposed as penalty on food business operators in the two divisions, the government said.