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Food Safety Act is for citizens’ benefit, says Bombay HC

22,September, 2015

MUMBAI: Observing that the Food Safety and Standard (FSS) Act is meant for the benefit of citizens and has direct nexus to right to life, the Bombay high court upheld the constitutional validity of the 2006 law, its provisions and the rules framed under it.

"This is a social legislation and provides for solution to the problems which would be a creation of nobody else but the members of the society,” said a bench of the HC while dismissing a bunch of petitions filed by restaurant owners and others who challenged the Act for being "violative of fundamental rights to equality, trade and life.”

Association of the Traders claiming to carry on business in various foods, Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association, Mumbai Mewa Masala Merchants Association, a registered Association of the retailers – wholesalers of dry fruits and spices had moved the HC in 2012 to set aside provisions of the Food Safety Act. Though not make clear the foundation of the challenge, the traders said the Act had "vague and excessive” provisions that affected their business and could be prone to abuse.

The HC found no merit in the challenge but in fact said, "we cannot lose sight of the evil which is sought to be remedied by this Act…Humans have a tendency to deal in food products which would not be safe for human consumption…”

The court suggested that it was "every citizen’s fundamental duty to nurture such morals, ideals and discipline” to eliminate the availability of unsafe food in the market through "sheer social responsibility.” The court went by the legal concept of construing a law that makes it effective, rather than voiding it. The HC held that every officer and authority in charge of implementing the FSS Act that governs food safety and regulates manufacture, storage, sale and import food safe for human consumption in India have an "onerous responsibility” and must not derelict either.

The HC said that the Act "serves a pivotal role in securing the citizens a minimum degree of purity in food and preserve public health. It is aimed at preventing fraud on the consumers and those who are guilty of endangering human life by indulging and dealing with the unsafe food are required to be dealt with iron hands.”
"If the provisions intend to curb such social evil, we are of the considered opinion that the challenge as raised by the petitioners on every count ought to fail.”

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