Srinagar, June 10: The High Court has directed the Services Selection Board (SSB) to clarify its stand with regard to relaxation in undergoing the training for recruitment of the Food Safety Officers in the Health and Medical Education Department.
The candidates who have been selected for the post of Food Inspectors pursuant to the advertisement notification issued by the SSB but their appointment has been withheld by the Commissioner/Secretary H&ME department as the authorities of SSB, H&ME and Drug & Food Control Department didn’t issue training course for appointment of the posts.
The appointment order is not being issued by the H&ME department on account of production of three months training in Food Inspection & Sampling work from Food Authority or from any institution approved for the said purpose by the Central Government.
These candidates through their advocate Zahoor Ahmad Shah approached the court with the plea that the said training is not required before appointment but the candidates have to undergo such training after their appointment.
Court as interim relief had directed the Commissioner/Secretary H&ME department to consider the claim of these candidates for their appointment pursuant to the selection made by the Board which has not been done by the said authority prompting the candidates to file contempt petition against him.
Advocate Shah has invited the attention of the Court to the communication bearing No. HME/HRM/02/2016 dated 27th of December, 2017, addressed to the Secretary, J&K Service Selection Board by the Additional Secretary to Government Health and Medical Education Department, mentioning about relaxation of this part as one time exception for recruitment to the post of Food Safety Officer (Food Inspector).
Additional Secretary H&ME department in this connection addressed a communication to the Secretary SSB mentioning therein that the condition of training as mentioned in Government order be considered as relaxed as one time exception for recruitment to the post of Food Safety Officer.
On the other hand the Controller Drug & Food Control addressed a communication to the Principal Secretary H&ME department submitting that the training in question was mandatory under rules for appointment to the post of Food Inspector.
The confusion over the training course between the departments has infringed the rights of the selected candidates to join their duties as also the Food Safety department is already facing lack of manpower which has already been noticed by the court in a Public Interest Litigation with regard to curbing the food adulteration in J&K.
There is no response of the Board to the communication of H&ME department specifically to enable the Court to decide the matter. In view of the said communication the court of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey directed the Secretary, JK Services Selection Board, file his affidavit disclosing the decision on the communication within a period of four weeks.
Advocate Shah while clarifying the issue submitted before the court that the candidates are entitled to benefit under Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 but the authorities are acting under previous Act of 1954 which has been repealed as such the recommendations withheld by the SSB is unreasonable and unjustified as the board is acting against the new law.
In order to strengthen the Food Safety Department a proposal of 306 posts of various designation in the FSD was sent to Finance Department for concurrence and the Secretary SSRB was supposed to inform the court as to how many posts has been received by it from the H&ME department for process of selection was directed to ensure that such posts are processed for selection as there are no existing officers in the feeding cadre who could be considered for promotion and in this view of the matter Commissioner/Secretary to Government of J&K, ARI, Training Department was under direction to resolve the issue at the earnest.
The then Food Safety Commissioner in his compliance report revealed that in order to monitor the production of different kinds of food items in J&K, two divisional level teams headed by respective Deputy Commissioners of Food Safety were constituted to do the necessary surprise checking and monitoring of food items.
Both the Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu in their previous reports showed that various erring food processing units were closed in Jammu division, food articles of worth lakhs were seized, some food licenses were suspended and the wrongful manufacturing units were sealed.