Supply of Adulterated Milk & Spices: Leading Companies Fined 10 Cr Each

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SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered owners of Khyber Agro and Kanwal industries besides the Delhi-based Avon Agro Industries to deposit 10 Crore rupees each in view of lab reports that they have been selling adulterated milk and spices in the market.

The three companies have been ordered to deposit the said amount within two weeks. The order came in a petition seeking implementation of food safety and standard rules in the state. 

The money is to be deposited with the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) which has been directed to keep it in a separate account till further orders.

A division bench comprising Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Justice Tashi Rabstan directed to seize the adulterated products from the market and from the premises of these companies.

Traders in the state have been directed not to sell any of these products.

Besides, the court has directed the government to give wide publicity in the print and electronic media about these adulterated products so that people stop using them.

According to documents submitted in the court by the deputy commissioner, Food Safety, the toned milk produced by Khyber was adulterated with detergent while the turmeric and fennel supplied by Avon and Kanwal respectively were mixed with hazardous colouring agents.

The court has directed the SKIMS to file a report about the nature of diseases which can be caused by these adulterated products.

The court observed, ”Some people are now trading in human miseries without realising how many people must have suffered. Those people who must have been afflicted with diseases because of consumption of these spices and toned milk, besides spending huge amount on their treatment, must have undergone huge mental trauma”.

The judges said: “At this stage it is not possible to identify all such persons, but treatment has to be meted out to the people who have suffered or may suffer from various diseases.”

The matter was raised in the High Court by advocates Sheikh Mohammad Ayoub and Tassaduq Hussain Khwaja. The next hearing of the case has been fixed for the first week of February.

The court has also asked the government to file compliance report with regard to its various directions passed in the matter. Matter has been listed in the first week of February for hearing.

Pertinently, on December 18 the state government had ordered an inquiry into the reports that adulterated spices and milk produced by these companies were sold in markets across the state.

Documents produced by the Deputy Commissioner, Food Safety, Kashmir, who was present in the Court (a copy of which is in the possession of Kashmir Observer), reveal that toned Khyber milk which is marketed under the brand name of Khyber Milk bearing Lot No. MD E S P 17 having manufacturing date July, 2013 was found by the Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata to be unsafe/misbranded/substandard vide their analytical report Ref. No. G.14-6/DO/2013 (pt.l)-725 dated 25thNovember, 2013. As per the report, detergents were also found in the sample of milk.

Turmeric powder manufactured by the company known as “AVON Agro Industries Pvt. Ltd C-35/23 Lawrence Road Ind. Area Delhi 35” has been declared unsafe because the sample showed presence of tartrazine (a colouring matter), which, it is submitted at bar, can be cause of subjecting the consumer to fatal diseases. Similarly the Central Food laboratory has reported about saunf (fennel) powder which is being processed and sold by Kanwal Agro Food Industries P21/B6 Food Industrial Estate Anantnag to be unsafe as results showed presence of Carmoisine and Tartrazine. 

ORDER

HIGH COURT OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR SRINAGAR

PIL. No. 01/2012 c/wPIL. No. 447/2006 &OWP.No. 1443/2013

Date of order: December 23, 2013

Sheikh Mohammad Ayoub Vs.State of J&K and Ors.

Coram:Hon’ble Mr. Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, Judge _Hon’ble Mr. Justice Tashi Rabstan, Judge_

Appearing counsel:For the appellant/petitioner(s) :

Mr. S.M.Ayoub, Advocate.Mr. T.H.Khawaja, Advocate. For the respondent(s) : Mr. J.A.Kawoosa, Sr.AAG.Mr. F.A.Mir, Advocate.Muzaffar Hussain Attar

The status report filed is far from satisfactory. Today the petitioner, Mr. Sheikh Mohammad Ayoub, Advocate who has filed this Public Interest Litigation and Mr. T.H.Khawaja, learned Advocate submitted at the very outset that it has come in the print media that some spices and milk has been found unsafe by the Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata.In order to verify these submissions, the case was ordered to be taken up at 2:00 P.M. and meanwhile, Mr. Kawoosa, learned senior Additional Advocate General was requested to keep available Deputy Commissioner, Food Safety, Kashmir.

When this case was taken up at 2:00 P.M., Mr. Kawoosa at the instructions of Deputy Commissioner, Food Safety, Kashmir, who was present in the Court, produced Xerox copies of documents comprising of eleven pages. The documents are taken on record. Perusal of these documents reveal that toned Khyber milk which is marketed under the brand name of Khyber Milk bearing Lot No. MD E S P 17 having manufacturing date July, 2013 was found by the Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata to be unsafe/misbranded/substandard vide their analytical report Ref. No. G.14-6/DO/2013 (pt.l)-725 dated 25,hNovember, 2013. As per the report, detergents were also found in the sample of milk.

Turmeric powder manufactured by the company known as “AVON Agro Industries Pvt. Ltd C-35/23 Lawrence Road Ind. Area Delhi 35” has been declared unsafe because the sample showed presence of tartrazine (a colouring matter), which, it is submitted at bar, can be cause of subjecting the consumer to fatal diseases. Similarly the Central Food laboratory has reported about saunf powder which is being processed and sold by Kanwal Agro Food Industries P21/B6 Food Industrial Estate Anantnag to be unsafe as results showed presence of Carmoisine and Tartrazine.Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted at bar that the aforementioned results would show that people are made to consume these spices and milk which endanger their lives as they are the source and cause of fatal diseases. The Deputy Commissioner, Food Safety Kashmir, who is present in the Court, is directed to send copies of the results from Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata to Director SKIMS, Srinagar. The Director SKIMS, Srinagar to file report about the nature of the diseases which can because of colouring matter which has been found present in the spices and the material which has been found in the toned milk. The Government shall also give vide publicity in the Print/Electronic Media about these food items so as to create general awareness in the public for non use of the aforesaid spices and toned milk. All those tradesmen who deal with these food items shall ensure that the spices bearing the lot numbers mentioned in this order as also the toned milk bearing the lot number described hereinabove, are not sold to consumers. The Authorities under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, read with Rules of 2011 shall take all necessary steps for seizing these spices and toned milk wherever available in the market and in the premises of manufacturers.

Human life is the most precious creation available on this planet. All other creations in the Universe are made for the benefit of human being. The human life is created for a definite purpose. One of the primary and main reasons of creating of the human being is to serve the interest of all the creatures inhabiting this planet. Unfortunately some amongst us, have forgotten that this life is temporary and one day we have to pass on from this planet and are bound to account for all our deeds. The empires built will be of no consequences when we pass on from this planet. Unfortunately some people are now trading in human miseries without realizing as how many people must have suffered from diseases after consuming the aforementioned spices and toned milk. Those people who must have been afflicted with the disease because of consumption of these spices and toned milk, besides spending huge amount on their treatments must have undergone huge mental trauma.

At this stage, it may not be possible to identify all such person, but the treatment has to be meted out to the people who have suffered or who may suffer from various diseases. In our considered view, at this stage, we deem it appropriate to direct the Owners/Managing Directors of the above said Companies/Corporations to deposit the amount of Rs.10 crores each with the Director SKIMS, Soura Srinagar within two weeks from today. The Director SKIMS, Soura Srinagar to keep this amount in a separate account and to await for further orders from the Court for its utilization. The respondent-State shall take all necessary steps for enforcing of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and rules made thereunder with reasonable promptitude.

List this case in the first week of February;204. 

Meanwhile, respondents to file compliance report. The Director, SKIMS, Soura Srinagar to inform the Registrar Judicial of this Court after the period of two weeks as to whether the aforementioned amount has been deposited or not. Registry to serve copy of this order on all the Authorities including the Owners/Managing Directors of aforementioned manufacturing companies forthwith. Registry to also provide copy of this order to learned counsel for the parties.

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