HC seeks personal appearance of Comm FS
Court takes serious note of food adulteration
Srinagar, Apr 21: The State High Court today took strong note of food adulteration which is causing life threatening diseases in the State and sought information from the authorities regarding infrastructure, manpower particulars of companies and unit holders who are processing food items in the entire State. It also sought personal appearance of the Commissioner / Secretary Food Safety.
These directions have been passed after the amicus curie to the suo-moto proceedings of the High Court, Senior Advocate Bashir Ahmad Bashir, brought to the notice of the Court that food adulteration in the State is at alarming situation and people due to their innocence are taking the sub-standard foods resulting into multiple diseases among people, including cancer whose rate had doubled in the Valley in the past less than a decade.
It has also been brought to the notice of the court by the amicus that food testing laboratory in the Valley lacks equipment, infrastructure and manpower to check the adulterated consumption of food and there is no mechanism in place to check the purity of eatables in Kashmir.
It is after these submissions that court directed the authorities to provide the information regarding number of testing laboratories and their location, which are available in the State. Court deferred the hearing of the matter till April 25 with the observation that “before proceeding further in this petition, it is appropriate to seek following information from the State Government”.
The Division Bench of Justice MH Attar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also sought information with regard to man power in the concerned department. “Number of officers/officials, who are required to be posted in terms of FSS Act 2006 and how many such officers are in place”.
DB also sought information with full particulars of all those persons/companies/ corporations, who are manufacturing and processing any food product in the State adding the information of those who have been convicted and sentenced under the Food Safety Act.
“How many convictions have been recorded by the court of law on the complaints filed under Food Safety and Standard Act of 2006.Full particulars of persons who are convicted and sentenced by the court of law be also provided”, DB further added.
Court granted time to the authorities till April 25 for the information at the request of counsel representing State advocate N A Beigh (Sr. AAG) and on that day court will hear the matter for its further proceedings and Commissioner Food Safety has been directed to remain present in the Court on April 25.
The suo-moto proceedings with regard to issue of food adulteration have been taken by the High Court with regard to media reports asserting that consumption of adulterated and carcinogenic food items in the Valley are at alarming proportion.
Meantime amicus, Advocate Bashir Ahmad Bashir, filed his suggestions as he was asked by the court so as to curb the menace of food adulteration and those suggestions are on record.
In its suggestion Advocate Bashir seeks arraying Chief Secretary of the State as respondent with Commissioner / Secretary H&ME Department, Secretary Health and Family Welfare Government of India, Director Health Services of both divisions of the State, Commissioners of Municipal Corporations of both divisions, Drug Controller of the State, All Deputy Commissioners of the State and all recognized Food Testing Laboratories in the State.
Amicus curie in his suggestions said that the PIL involved security and protection of precious lives of lakhs of people who are consuming different food items which are allegedly contaminated and carcinogenic causing terminal diseases.
It was further stated in the suggestions that situation is aggravated by lack of scientific facilities for checking and testing the contaminated food items like food testing laboratories, equipments, man power (both technical & non-technical) as also the supervisory staff.
Advocate Bashir also submitted that the Food Safety & Standards Act is applicable to whole country and the State of J&K so it must have scientific committee or pane of advisory committees at Central level and to execute the provision of laws of the said Act.
It was reported in various press reports that food testing laboratory in the Valley lacks equipment, infrastructure and manpower to check the adulterated consumption of food in Valley. It is said that the adulterated food is leading to multiple diseases among people, including cancer whose rate had doubled in the Valley in the past less than a decade.
The lone Food Testing Laboratory (FTL) of the Valley situated in Srinagar is said to be having ancient and outdated equipments while old methods are put into practice to test samples of foods.
About the food items like oils, milk etc consumed by general masses according to the reports are contaminated and such kind of adulteration have flooded the markets of the Valley as there is no mechanism in place to check the purity of eatables.