The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday directed the government to set up Food Testing Laboratories in Jammu and Srinagar immediately and make them functional by July 11.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation against food adulteration, a division bench of Justice MuzaffarHussain Attar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey said: “We hope and trust that before next date of hearing, two laboratories one at Srinagar and one at Jammu would be made functional. The laboratories shall be fully equipped.”
While the court directed the government to provide required technical manpower to the laboratories in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, it said the recruitment be made on fast-track basis before the next hearing as far as possible.
Listing the case for further hearing in the week commencing July 1, the court also directed the government to purchase Mobile Vans and put them to service before the next date of hearing.
Earlier this year—in response to the status report by government that attested bad the state of affairs—the court had said the respondents in the compliance report have stated how only two Food Testing Laboratories, one at Dalgate here and another at Patoli Jammu, are completely outdated and equipment installed in these labs is dysfunctional.
Meanwhile, the Court took on record Supreme Court order of June 7, 2016 in a Special Leave Petition whereby J&K High Court order dated April 27 asked the authorities to seal business units whose products were found adulterated, was modified.
On June 7, the apex court had modified a Jammu and Kashmir High Court order and asked a state traders’ body to give an undertaking that if the food items supplied by them are found to be adulterated, then the authorities will take action as per law instead of sealing their units.
In its order of April 27, this year, the High Court had earlier this year asked the traders’ body to give an undertaking that if prima-facie the food items supplied by them were found to be adulterated, then their units would be liable to be sealed.
While senior lawyer and Amicus Curie Bashir Ahmad Bashir and Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai submitted that modification of the High Court order by the apex court does not mean that the respondents will not file the undertakings, Advocate Ashok Bhan and other counsels appearing for respondents countered the submission.
“All those respondents, who have not filed the undertakings till date, shall file the same before the next date in the light of Order of Hon’ble Supreme Court passed on 7th June, 2016,” the court said
Taking on record the latest status report filed by government through AAG, M I Dar in the Open Court, the court said: “Though it does show that some steps have been taken in implementing the provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and the Rules made therein, a lot is required to be done to alleviate the sufferings of the people”.