State fails to act against ‘powerful’ companies: HC

Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar, May 4:  The State High Court today observed that Food processing companies are so powerful that State is unable to proceed against them and it rejected the application of the Chief Secretary of the State seeking exemption from personal appearance before the court.
The Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice MH Attar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey today made these observations and passed the directions while hearing a PIL on Food Safety in the State.
Court during the proceedings of the case pointed towards Advocate General of the State that on one side the health of the people is involved and on the other side, companies are so powerful that State is unable to act against them. “Today it is we; tomorrow it would be our children. Our children would be born deformed because of this adulterated food. “They (offenders, like Khyber) have become so powerful that State is unable to proceed against them, money power is now in action”, court observed.
Court took serious note of the functioning of Food Testing Laboratories and observed to the Advocate General: “Do you think 1960’s model labs would cope with the requirements of 2016 and health of public is involved. They are literally being fed poison. There won’t be any compromise with the health of the people. Court is aware of its Constitutional obligation. Court would make the system work even if the Government forgets its duties. Mr. AG it is unfortunate you are defending them.”
Court also directed Chief Secretary of the State and other officials to remain present before the court. The application for exemption of personal appearance was moved by the authorities and court rejected it and reiterated all these authorities be present before the court on next date of hearing.
Court directed the Commissioner Food Safety to provide the full information and particulars of outsider food manufacturers and companies who supply food items to Jammu and Kashmir.
The court in order to ensure implementation of provisions of ‘Food Safety and Standards Act 2006’ practically also directed the Commissioner Food to provide the information to court about the Jammu Division as well.
“All the said authorities shall ensure publication of public notice in newspapers one each at Srinagar and Jammu, informing the aforesaid manufacturers/ processors/ suppliers/ persons/companies to comply with the directions of court passed on April 27”, directed the Division Bench.
Court also directed all the unit holders and food manufacturers to submit their undertakings before the court in terms of previous orders as various owners of food processing and manufacturing units were present before the court through their counsels.
It may be mentioned here that in view of the alarming situation of food adulteration in the State, the High Court has taken suo-moto proceedings with regard to issue of food adulteration after it was reported in media reports asserting that consumption of adulterated and carcinogenic food items in the Valley are at alarming proportion.
Court had made it clear that the stay of proceedings from the Supreme Court would not mean that these manufacturers and companies have been given license to manufacture and process of such food items which are adulterated. “The Act of 2006 is not stayed by the Supreme Court”, DB had said.
Court had summoned Chief Secretary of the State for his personal  appearance before the court on next date as also impleaded all food processing and manufacturing unit holders as party respondents to the PIL.
Court had directed all those food processing unit holders to file their affidavits before next date of hearing of the matter, detailing therein as to how and in what way they are following the provisions of Act and rules.


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