Food Safety: High Court directs JK Govt to ‘get spices tested’

Makes testing of milk, imported food items mandatory; Seeks compliance report by January 31

D A RASHID

Srinagar, Jan 2: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the state government to collect samples of spices, manufactured by factories and/or industrial units in the state, on weekly basis for laboratory testing. The Court directed the government to punish those found indulging in adulteration.
A division bench of High Court comprising Justice Virender Singh and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while passing a slew of directions on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking implementation Food Safety and Standards Act in J&K, also directed for testing of imported food items and other eatables.
The Court, however, said the samples shall be sent to the concerned laboratories in accordance with the mandate contained in the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006. “The government has to file the compliance report before January 31, 2013,” it said.
The court also directed the respondents to continuously keep on testing the milk in the market, directing action under law against those whose samples are found adulterated.
In order to maintain food standards in their respective districts, the Court directed all the District Magistrates to “closely monitor the functioning of the authorities responsible to maintain food standards in their districts.” The DMs have also been directed to convene fortnightly meetings of all officers for this purpose.
“The District Magistrates shall file compliance report in this behalf by January 31, 2013,” the Court directed.
The Court further directed the respondents to inform the Court about the number of functional slaughter houses available in each district of the state.
“The respondents will also inform the court about the hygienic conditions of the factories, manufacturing units and slaughter houses,” the court said.
It also directed the government to provide information about the result of the samples already taken and sent to the concerned laboratories.
The court directed the government to take necessary steps for making provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act effective and visible on the ground level.
Seeking compliance report by January 31, the court asked the Commissioner, Food Safety (Jammu and Kashmir) to take steps to avoid confusion in the implementation of the provisions of the Act.
The PIL states that Food Safety Act 2006 and Food Safety & Standards Rules of 2011 provide that the post of Commissioner Food Safety should be manned by a person of Commissioner/Secretary rank, while in J&K an In-charge Drug Controller has been assigned the job who “lacks the basic eligibility and qualification.”
According to the PIL, the present incumbent is “not competent” to hold the post and sanction any prosecution and he is not in a position to take any action against the person found guilty under the Act and Rules.
The petition alleges that the adulterated food items are openly sold and many spices and edibles in the market are unsafe for consumption as the Act and Rules have not been implemented.
The petitioners were represented by advocates S M Ayub and T H Khawaja while SAAG, A M Magray, AAG, Shabir Naik, Advocate B A Khan defended the state.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 3 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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