SC favours life imprisonment for milk adulteration
In a major direction aimed at checking milk adulteration, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre and state governments to amend laws to make production and marketing of adulterated milk, which is injurious to human consumption, an offence punishable with life imprisonment.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit issued the directions while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Swami Achyutanand Tirth. The petitioners alleged that state governments and the Centre had failed to take effective measures for combating the adulteration of milk with hazardous substance like urea, detergent, refined oil, caustic soda, etc, which adversely affects the consumers’ health and sought appropriate direction.
The Bench observed that since in India traditionally infants/children are fed milk, adulteration of milk and its products was a serious concern and stringent measures need to be taken to combat it. “The consumption of adulterated milk and adulterated milk products is hazardous to human health. As directed by court by order dated December 12, 2014, it will be in order that the Centre come up with suitable amendments in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and the Union of India shall also make penal provisions at par with the provisions contained in the state amendments as indicated above,” the Bench said.
“State Food Safety Authority should also identify high-risk areas (where there is greater presence of petty food manufacturer/business operator) and times (near festivals) when there is risk of ingesting adulterated milk or milk products due to environmental and other factors and greater number of food samples should be taken from those areas,” the Bench added. The Bench also directed that to prevent adulteration of milk, the concerned state department should set up a website thereby specifying the functioning and responsibilities of food safety authorities and also creating awareness on complaint mechanisms.
“In the website, the contact details of the Joint Commissioners, including the Food Safety Commissioners should be made available for registering complaints. All states should also have and maintain toll-free telephonic and online complaint mechanism,” the Bench said.
It’s worth mentioning here that the apex court on December 5, 2013, had asked states to amend their laws to deal with the problem of milk adulteration.
The bench, also referred to the amendments made by some states like West Bengal, Odisha in the IPC, enhancing jail term to the imprisonment for life with or without fine for food adulteration.