High Court seeks report on food monitoring

The High Court on Wednesday sought a report from the Government on monitoring of different food items in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hearing a suo-motto Public Interest Litigation against food adulteration, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar directed the authorities concerned to file the report within four weeks. 

The direction came after the court observed that the status report filed by the government did not mention random checks or raids conducted to monitor manufacturing of food items. 

 As soon as the matter came up for hearing, advocate Ateeb Kanth informed the court that the status report filed by the government is not in consonance with the provisions of Food Safety and Standard Act 2006.  

“The government has not taken food samples from shopkeepers and bakery owners. They have filed a report sans details,” Kanth told the court.

State’s Senior Additional Advocate General (AAG) Shah Aamir, however, told the court that the government is taking every step to curb food adulteration as required under the Act.

“We follow the provisions of the Food Safety and Standard Act. Adulteration is an issue and serious steps are being taken to deal with the menace,” he said.  

The court, however, directed the authorities to file within four weeks an additional affidavit indicating various steps taken by the government to monitor food items.

For implementation of the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, the Court has been issuing a slew of directions during the past four years. The biggest impediment for the food testing labs is the manpower to run these labs.  

Miffed over the defiance of its directions to provide manpower to the two food testing laboratories and the mobile food testing vans in Jammu and Kashmir, the court in February this year had pulled up top officials of the state. 

The court had directed Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education Department, Commissioner Secretary, Administrative Reforms, Inspections (ARI) and Trainings Department, Commissioner Food Safety and Secretary Services Selection Board to remain present before it.

But the government has not so far informed the court that the manpower has been provided to the labs.

In 2016, the High Court had taken suo-moto cognizance of news reports published in Greater Kashmir on food adulteration and rising cancer incidence and treated these as a Public Interest Litigation.