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23 January 2019

Wants adulterators to be brought to book at the earliest

The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed all civil and criminal courts in the State to ensure that cases filed against food adulterators were taken up on an urgent basis and disposed of as early as possible.

A Division Bench of Justices Vineet Kothari and Anita Sumanth issued the interim direction on a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate A.P. Suryaprakasam in 2017 seeking a CBI probe into Dairy Development Minister K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji’s claim that milk sold by some private dairies was unhealthy.

During the last hearing of the case on December 13, the judges grilled Food Safety Commissioner P. Amudha over the action taken against those selling adulterated milk in the State. She had expressed her inability to conduct more number of raids because of limited manpower available in her department.

Rejecting such excuses, the Bench directed her to crack down on every other adulterator and submit a comprehensive report in the court. Accordingly, the Commissioner filed a report in the court on Tuesday and the judges were surprised to see the number of raids having gone up considerably without any change in the manpower.

After recording the submission of the Commissioner that as many as 790 samples of milk were lifted from various establishments and subjected to quality checks in December alone, the judges wondered why no action had been taken though 113 of those samples were found to be sub-standard.

Cases in lower courts

On a perusal of a chart produced before them, they also found that criminal cases launched against food adulterators were pending in the lower courts for long.

A direction was issued to the lower courts to dispose of the cases at the earliest and a direction was issued to the Registrar General to obtain a list of such cases pending in the courts.

Civil proceedings pending against food adulterators before the District Revenue Officers should also be concluded speedily and details thereof must be submitted in the court by February 26, the judges ordered.

The Bench also took serious note of the Food Safety and Standards Rules, framed by the government in 2001, exempting those who sell less than 500 litres of milk per day from obtaining a licence under the Act. “Does that mean a person who sells one litre of milk each to 500 families is entitled to poison them?” the senior judge in the Bench asked and said that his Bench shall examine the issue in detail during the next hearing.



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