PIL on food adulteration in J&K CS, FC, Com-Sec Health, Food Safety to appear in person
SRINAGAR, Apr 28: The High Court today asked Chief Secretary, Financial Commissioner Planning, Commissioner Secretary Health and Food Safety Commissioner to appear in person on May 4 in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking implementation of Jammu and Kashmir Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 (FSSA) to check food adulteration in the state.
As the matter came up for hearing, a division bench of the High Court comprising of Justices M.H Attar and A M Magrey asked the government to indicate as how and in which manner the food manufacturing and processing units in the state are complying with the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006.
The court also asked the milk processing units in the State to submit affidavits on how much milk they supply to the markets each day with the source of their milk procurement.
Earlier, the government had filed names of Managing Directors of all food manufacturing and processing units in the state. On April 25, the High Court had said that it appears that people in Jammu and Kashmir are made to consume adulterated food and all those responsible to check adulteration seem to have forgotten to perform their statutory duty.
“There is no testing laboratory worth the name under this Act in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It appears that people of the state are made to consume adulterated food. All those, who are responsible to check this adulteration, probably have forgotten to perform their statutory duty,” a division bench of the High Court comprising of Justices M H Attar and A M Magrey had said, while passing the orders in the matter.
The court had said: “The statement made at bar by learned counsel for the respondents and even by Commissioner Food Safety is enough to shock conscience of every sensitive soul, inasmuch as, there is no paraphernalia available in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with mandate contained in provision of Jammu and Kashmir Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006.”
The court has now asked for adequate information through a fresh compliance report with regard to details on convictions recorded by the court of law on the complaints filed under FSSA of 2006.
On April 21, the Court had asked the state government to produce full particulars of persons who have been convicted and sentenced by the court of law under the FSSA.
The court had observed that that before proceeding further in the PIL, it is deemed appropriate to seek information about the number of testing laboratories and their locations which are available in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The court had asked the state government to inform it about: “Number of officers/officials, who are required to be posted in terms of Food Safety and Standard Act of 2006. How many such officers are in place? Names and full particulars of all those persons, companies or corporations, which are manufacturing or processing any products in Jammu and Kashmir! How many convictions have been recorded by the court of law on the complaints filed under Food Safety and Standard Act of 2006?”
On April 12, the Court had granted a week to the state government to file objections in the PIL seeking implementation of Food Safety and Standard Act 2006 (FSSA) to check food adulteration in the state.
On March 25, 2016, the high court had taken suo-moto cognizance of media reports regarding food adulteration, rising cancers, and lack of infra structure to check adulteration of food items in the state.
In 2014, the court while hearing a PIL—Sheikh Ayoub Vs State— seeking implementation of Food Safety and Standard Act 2006 (FSSA) to check food adulteration in the state, had issued slew of directions to state authorities.
It had directed Food Safety Officers, Designated Officers and all those involved in implementation of the Food Safety Act, to “pull up their socks, hone up machinery and speed up lifting and analysis of samples and food items, transported, manufactured, stored and marketed in the state without showing any leniency to big players in the market so that food items free from adulteration are made available to consumers.”
The court had also directed the government to submit comprehensive report regarding samples lifted from time to time, indicating number of samples referred to notified Laboratories/Referral Laboratories and the result of analysis and action taken.
The court had also directed all companies to inform general public that the packed milk sold in Jammu and Kashmir is not pure cow’s milk but processed one.
“As there is a general impression that what is sold in the market by various companies is pure cow’s milk, (they) shall inform general public through print media that what is sold by them is not pure cow’s milk but processed milk,” the court had said.
The companies, court had said, shall also notify the source of milk marketed as well as mode and manner in which marketed milk is processed. However, the order was later stayed by the Supreme Court.
On March 25, 2016, the High Court had taken suo-moto cognizance of news reports on food adulteration and rising cancer incidence in the Valley.
The court appointed senior counsel Bashir Ahmad Bashir, as Amicus Curie in the case to assist it. Hearing the PIL, a division bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey issued notice to the government seeking its objections to the petition. Senior Additional Advocate General, N A Beigh, accepted notice on behalf of the government.
While treating the media reports as PIL, the division bench made certain observations, saying “Press has done its job and it is now the constitutional duty of the court to initiate action for protecting the human life.”
Underscoring its constitutional duty, the court observed: “This court being the guardian and sentinel of the rights of the people is duty-bound to respond to the alarming situation that is created by the life-threatening diseases and non-availability of infrastructure to tackle the same.”
“The causes have to be known as to why a large section of population is afflicted with the life-threatening diseases. Simultaneously, the remedial measures and necessary infrastructure have to be provided,” the court observed. “We are duty bound to enforce the fundamental rights of the large population.”
“The importance of human life is accepted and recognized by Article 21 of the Constitution of India. For leading a meaningful life, a human being has to be healthy,” the court observed, adding, “It is said that Health is Wealth. It is only a healthy person who can accomplish the purpose of life to its full.”