Srinagar: With the government failing to fill the post of commissioner, food safety, the High Court on Monday intervened by giving additional charge to secretary health and medical education.
Hearing a suo-motu Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey asked why the government is lagging behind in not appointing the food commissioner.
“As of now, secretary health and medical education is directed to hold additional charge of commissioner food safety. Why is government lagging behind in this?” Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed said.
The court observed that the secretary health and medical education, who was also present in the court, had explained that the proposal for appointing the commissioner food safety was pending before the finance department. “We direct state to complete the proposal within a week as it is crucial for the functioning of food testing laboratory to have a commissioner in place,” the court added.
The court also passed direction to the government to apply for accreditation through the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Callibration Laboratories (NABL) as without it labs in Srinagar and Jammu would be useless.
The court said the food labs require food safety officers, food analysts, designated officers and an assistant commissioner followed by a commissioner. It also noted that food samples should go through a food safety officer to a food analyst to the designated officer and then for for final clearance to the commissioner. “And for all these, there is a need of well-qualified and skilled manpower,” the petitioner’s counsel said.
Secretary health and medical education said 23 posts of designated officers had been filled, and 70 food safety officers out of 106 had been appointed 20 being given additional charge. Sixteen posts were also referred to the JK service selection board for recruitment; exams for that post took place on July16. The court said that the 20 posts holding additional charge must also be filled forthwith through the competent authority. It was also directed that any other pendency be filled, if there is vacancy for it.
Meanwhile, a Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) report has pointed out that there is a need to properly apply for food for Safety and Standards Act in J&K. It has also asked for the accreditation and up-grading of labs with standard manpower in place.
On this, the court was informed that both structural as well infrastructural necessities would be meted out within two months in both labs at Srinagar and Jammu.
The court also directed JK police chief to submit details regarding the space occupied by the police at Srinagar’s food-testing laboratory. A direction was also passed to the Director General Police to take necessary steps to shift from that location immediately