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Implementation of Food Safety Act tardy in J&K: SC

9,February, 2015
 

‘Expedite trial against erring companies in food adulteration case’

JAMMU, Feb 8: In an embarrassing situation for the concerned authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, Supreme Court has observed that implementation of Food Safety and Standards Act has been tardy in the State and has sought detailed report from the Government in this regard.

This observation was made by the Apex Court of the country while hearing Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by Kashmir valley based Khyber Agro Farms Pvt Limited and connected applications arising out of order passed by J&K High Court in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on food adulteration.

The J&K High Court had imposed Rs 30 crore penalty on three companies including Khyber Agro Farms Pvt Limited after their products were found unfit for human consumption as per the reports of Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata.

After hearing counsels for all the parties in these SLPs, a bench of Apex Court comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice C Nagappan observed, “it has been brought to our notice that the implementation of the provisions of the Act in the State of Jammu & Kashmir has been somewhat tardy”.

“If the Act is in force in the State, there must be strict implementation and the State Government must ensure the same”, the bench said, adding “when the matters come up on the next date, the State of Jammu & Kashmir will file a report before this court with regard to the state of implementation of the provisions of the Act including the manpower available to ensure such implementation”.

Stating that the Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) will remain pending, the Apex Court said, “the interim orders passed in the present Special Leave Petitions will remain in force. It will naturally be open for the Authorities under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 to take such action as may be warranted in law from time to time”.

“The trial against the petitioners under the provisions of the Act, which are stated to be presently pending, shall be expedited and completed within an outer limit of six months”, the bench directed, adding that the matters be listed after the trials against the petitioners in the present Special Leave Petitions are concluded.

“Needless to say, the trial court will conduct the trial and conclude the same without, in any manner, being influenced by any finding, observation or view that has been recorded by the High Court in the orders dated 30th January, 2014, 13th February, 2014 and 24th March, 2014 in the Public Interest Litigation No.1 of 2012”, the Supreme Court further directed.

It is pertinent to mention here that for effective and smooth implementation of Food Safety and Standard Act 2006 in Jammu and Kashmir, the State Government in the month of July last year had constituted a Steering Committee headed by the Chief Secretary as its Chairman.

The eight-member committee comprises Administrative Secretaries of Health and Medical Education, Rural Development, Housing and Urban Development, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution an Law Departments, Controller Drugs and Food Control Organization, J&K and Deputy Commissioner of Food Safety Kashmir/Jammu.

However, according to the official sources, much headway could not be made in the implementation of the provisions of the Act although some steps were initiated in this regard following strictures from the State High Court in the PIL on food adulteration.

In the capital cities, food adulteration is still continuing particularly on festive seasons due to lack of vigorous campaign in this regard from the concerned authorities.

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