The High Court of Madras last week directed the Government to file a status report on action taken on complaints against milk adulteration.
“Status report be filed with regard to the steps taken for implementation of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, particularly in relation to the allegation of adulteration of milk meant for children. Needless to mention that strong action will be taken against those found guilty of adulteration of milk,” the Bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar observed.
The direction was issued on a PIL filed by Advocate A.P. Suryaprakasam, who has sought a CBI probe into reports of milk adulteration by private producers. Mr. Suryaprakasam has argued that it is upon the Government to discharge its statutory duties to safeguard the health and safety of the citizens. He has, therefore, sought a direction to the Government to take the necessary steps for enhancement of punishment for adulteration of food or drinks intended for sale, by amending Section 272 of the Indian Penal Code. The matter will now be heard on 19 June.
Earlier this year, the Law Commission of India, in its Report No. 264, had recommended life imprisonment for those convicted of manufacturing and selling adulterated food. It had, in this regard, presented the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017, proposing to amend Sections 272 and 273 of the Indian Penal Code, and bringing it in line with the Food Act as well as the punishments prescribed by the IPC amendments made by Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The Amendments had been proposed in light of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Swami Achyutanand Tirth & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors., AIR2016SC3626, wherein the Court had directed the Central Government to come up with suitable amendments in the Food Act and the IPC, to bring it at par with the State amendments. The Court in that case was hearing a Writ Petition highlighting the menace of growing sales of adulterated and synthetic milk in different parts of the country, and the inability of concerned State Governments and the Union to take effective measures for combating the adulteration of milk with hazardous substances.
You may read: Food Adulteration Laws in India and Government’s Response by M.R. Shamshad
Read the Order here.