Manufacturing, processing units to file affidavits on safety of their products
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday directed owners of food manufacturing and processing units to file affidavits indicating the manner in which they follow provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation against food adulteration, a division bench comprising Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey also directed the owners of food processing units to file affidavits indicating that the food items they supply in the market are fit for human consumption.
While the bench directed the owners/MDs of food manufacturing and processing units to file by next date of hearing affidavits indicating as to how and in which manner they follow the provisions of the Act of 2006 and rules there under, they were also asked to provide information about the laboratories set up in their units, the equipment installed and the number of persons having expertise in accordance with the Act of 2006 working in such laboratories.
“The owners of units who deal in different kinds of milk to indicate in their affidavits as to how much milk they are supplying each day, the sources of procurement of such milk,” the court ordered.
The Court also directed owners of these units to file undertaking before its Registrar Judicial satisfying that they will supply food items fit for human consumption to consumers. “They shall also undertake that in the event it is, prima facie, found that food item are adulterated, then their units may be liable to be sealed.”
It directed the hoteliers, restaurant owners and shopkeepers to ensure that adulterated or unsafe food is not supplied to the consumers.
Meanwhile the court arrayed state government through its Chief Secretary, Commissioner Secretary, Health and Food Commissioner Food Safety, Financial Commissioner/ Commissioner Secretary Finance & Planning as party respondents in the PIL, besides owners and MDs of food manufacturing and processing units.
The court directed the Chief Secretary and the aforementioned authorities to remain present before it on next date of hearing.
Observing that the status report filed by the government attests how bad the state of affairs are, the court said the respondents in the compliance report have stated that how only two Food Testing Laboratories – one at Dalgate and another at Patoli Jammu – are completely outdated and equipment installed in these labs is dysfunctional.
It said according to the report there are only two food Laboratories and at present there is only one Laboratories available as the other has been siezed following the directions of a Budgam Court.
Observing that the latest status report filed by respondents is sufficient to indicate that people of the state have been left at the mercy of God, the court said for the checking of adulterated food there are neither effective and adequate number of laboratories available nor the requisite equipment.
“Besides this, even the manpower, in terms of the Act 2006 and Rules made there under, in its full strength, is not available. It appears that appointments have not been made in accordance with law till date,” the court observed.
“In the aforesaid circumstances in this case, the staying of proceedings in PIL 01/2012 by Hon’ble 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 foods and some of the persons/Companies continue to manufacture/produce adulterated food items,” the court said while referring to directions in PIL of 2012.
“Staying of proceedings by the Apex Court would not mean that people would be asked to consume unsafe and adulterated food. Neither that order of the Apex Court would be deemed to have given license to such manufactures/producers of food items to process and manufacture adulterated food. The Act of 2006 is not stayed by Hon’ble the Supreme Court,” the court said.