SC stay no license for manufacturing adulterated food: HC
CS summoned, impleaded in PIL
SRINAGAR, Apr 28: The State High Court today made it clear that the stay of proceedings by the Supreme Court doesn’t not mean that food processing companies have license to manufacture and process adulterated food.
The Division Bench of Justice MH Attar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey today said that stay granted by Supreme Court in favour of food processing companies in food adulteration case doesn’t give them license to manufacture unsafe foods. “The Act of 2006 is not stayed by the Supreme Court”, court added.
“In the aforesaid circumstances appearing in this case, the staying of proceedings in earlier PIL by the Supreme Court would not prevent this court from taking up the cause of the people of the State, who are continuously made to consume the adulterated food and some of the persons/companies continue to manufacture and product and process adulterated food items”, Court said.
The High Court said: “Court said it is making an earnest effort to ensure that the menace of supplying adulterated food to the consumers by the companies, that produce and process food, is stopped but on the motion of these companies the Supreme Court stayed the proceedings in that PIL and in view of the Supreme Court direction this court could not proceed further.”
Court said after the recent revelation through media report about alarming food adulteration and rise in diseases like cancer in the State, it took cognizance of these reports in shape of fresh PIL on menace of food adulteration.
The bench summoned Chief Secretary before the court and impleaded him, all food processing and manufacturing unit holders as party respondents to the PIL.
Court in order to ensure provisions of the ‘Food Safety and Standards Act 2006’ impleaded Chief Secretary, Commissioner/ Secretary Health, Commissioner Food Safety, Financial Commissioner Finance & Planning and owners of food manufacturing units whose particulars were given by the State to the court.
“In order to ensure that provisions of the Act of 2006 and rules made there under are effectively implemented at the ground level” adding “to further ensure that the menace of producing /processing and supplying adulterated food to the consumers is, at once, stopped”, the Division Bench said while summoning the CS before the court.
Court directed all those food processing unit holders to file affidavits before next date of hearing of the PIL, on how and in what way they are following the provisions of Food Safety Act and rules. “They shall also provide information about the laboratories set up in their units, the equipment installed therein and the number of persons, having expertise in accordance with the Act and Rules, working in such laboratories”, court directed all food processing and manufacturing unit holders.
Court sought information on affidavit on supply of milk per day from the companies and units and the source of procurement of such milk.
Court directed these food manufacturing and processing units to undertake before the Registrar Judicial of the court that they will supply food items to the consumers which are fit for human consumption. “They shall also undertake that in the event it is, prima facie, found that food items are adulterated, then their units may be liable to be sealed”, reads the order.
Court also directed the hoteliers, restaurant owners and shopkeepers to ensure supply of safe food to consumers as the court is guardian and sentinel of rights of the people. It said that it will continue to pursue with all its earnestness for the noble cause.
Court said the status report of the respondents is enough to indicate that the people of this State have been left at the mercy of God as for the checking of adulterated food neither there is effective and adequate number of laboratories nor the requisite equipment. “Even the manpower, in terms of the Act and rules, in its full strength, is not available. It appears that appointments have not been made in accordance with law till date”, court said.
Underscoring the importance of Constitution which the court said has given all the Constitutional, statutory and administrative authorities to hold their positions in trust for the benefit of people. “The constitution has created the institutions for the welfare of those people who gave it to themselves. This court is one such creation of the Constitution”, court added.
Referring to the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right of life to everyone in all respects and in a pure manner, Court said: “No one has right to manufacture, produce and sell adulterated food as it has direct impact on the human health and every human being has inherent and unchallengeable right to lead a healthy life.”
Court said this right, however, is abridged and shortened by the ‘soulless persons’ by producing, manufacturing and supplying unsafe and adulterated food to the people.
Mentioning its earlier efforts to curb the food adulteration, Court reminded that in 2013 on the report of Food Safety Kashmir (Deputy Commissioner) which revealed that the toned Khyber milk processed by M/S Khyber Agro Pvt Ltd, Turmeric powder manufactured by Avon Agro Industries Pvt Ltd and Saunf Powder processed and sold by Kanwal Agro Food Industries were found unsafe, misbranded and substandard due to presence of detergent, tartrazine(coloring matter) and Carmoisini/Tartrazine in these food items.
Thereafter court said the report and result of these food items was directed to be sent to Director SKIMS to find out the nature of diseases which can be caused by the aforesaid adulterated food products.
Director SKIMS as directed by the court submitted its report about the side-effects and nature of diseases caused by these elements present in the food ” it causes allergic and intolerance reactions, cancer in bladder, damage to many organs causing heart diseases, nerves system disease and cancer etc”, says Director in his elaborated report.
Court in this backdrop had directed all these three companies to show cause why besides the initial direction of depositing of Rs 10 crores each, they shall not be directed to deposit further Rs 10 crores each.