Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday directed the Finance department to clear the proposal for the post of Food Safety commissioner within a week and stipulated that the selection process should be done within six weeks.
Though the charge of commissioner, Food Safety, is held by Pawan Kotwal (commissioner secretary, Health and Medical Education), the court observed that a full-time commissioner, Food Safety, should be in place as per the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act.
The court observed that besides appointing a Food Safety commissioner, the government should also place adequate staff.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Alok Aradhe remarked that the government is not acting as per the court’s directions and that it is unfortunate that nothing is being taken seriously.
“With respect to accreditation of food labs, we are informed that Application has been sent to National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). Also two food analysts each from Jammu and Srinagar have been deported to NABL for required training.
“We direct state to submit updated status report on next hearing regarding authentication and accreditation of food labs,” the bench ordered.
Meanwhile, the counsel from the state submitted before court that the Finance department has cleared the proposal for the creation of commissioner, Food Safety, and a full-time commissioner would be in place very soon.
The counsel further informed the court that with regard to selection of food safety officers, the J&K Service Selection Board has forwarded the selection list of candidates, and appointment orders will be issued shortly.
The court directed that appointment of Food Safety officers should be done within two weeks.
One post of food analyst, Srinagar, has been filled, but for Jammu it would be filled in 2018.
The court was informed that equipment for ultra-violet photometer spectroscopy and infra-red spectroscopy and an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrophotometer has been installed.
The court directed that all the necessary equipment must be in place and the requisite manpower should also be there for proper usage of the newly installed equipment.
State counsel M I Dar informed court that a special drive has been taken to check packed food articles in Srinagar.
The court directed that similar measures be taken for the Jammu division.
“We are also informed that there are seven mobile labs across the state. Three at Kashmir, three at Jammu and one at Leh.”
The court directed that a status report be submitted with regard to the functioning of these mobile vans on the next hearing.