SC to hear J&K eateries plea against likely shut down on June 7

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) The Supreme Court will hear on June 7 the plea by the Jammu and Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (JKTMF) challenging the state high court’s direction that if, prima facie, it was found that the edibles being sold by them were not fit for human consumption, their units would be liable to be sealed.

A vacation bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy directed the hearing of the matter on June 7 as the bench tagged the plea with earlier pleas by three companies marketing milk and dairy products, spices and other edibles.

Though the issue raised by the three companies – Khyber Agro Farms, Avon Agro Industries, and Kanwal Agro Food Industries – was to come up for hearing on July 5 but the court advanced it to June 7 so that it could also be heard together with the laths plea by the JKTMF.

The three companies’ had moved the top court in 2014 against January 30, 2014 order of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

The court tagged the latest plea by JKTMF 2014 with that of the three companies as Jayant Bhushan, appearing for JKTMF, told the court that both the petitions raises the same issues and orders passed by the high court in 2014 and now were similar.

Advancing the hearing, the vacation bench asked Jayant Bhushan to inform counsel for three companies about June 7 hearing.

It did not however stay any part of the April 27 high court order directing the “food manufacturing/processing units to file an undertaking before the registrar, judicial of the high court certifying that the food manufacturing/processing units will supply food items fit for human consumption to the consumers, and in the event it is prima facie found that the food items are adulterated, their units will be liable to be sealed”.

The JKTMF was troubled by the part which says, “in the event it is prima facie found that the food items are adulterated, their units will be liable to be sealed” and Bhushan had urged the court to put on hold operation of this part of the order, which, he said, was contrary to the provisions of the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006.

The April 27, 2016 high court order had come on suo motu PIL.

In the earlier hearing of the matter on May 25, Jayant Bhushan had told the court that under the provisions of Food Safety Standard Act, 2006, small time business entities including petty manufacturers who themselves manufacture or sell any article of food or a petty retailer, hawker or a temporary stall holder have to be registered but need not have a licence.

The bench was told that Section 32 of the FSS Act, 2006, and Standards Act provides that if a food business operator fails to comply with the provisions of the FSS Act and the regulations made thereunder then he would be served with a notice asking him to improve his food items.

Bhushan had said under Section 33 of the FSS Act the premises or equipment used for food business should not be shut without giving an opportunity to the food business operator to present his side of the case.

JKTMF have also assailed the high court direction asking the owners/managing directors of the food manufacturing/processing units to tell if their units had laboratories for testing food, the equipment installed therein and the number of persons having expertise engaged there as per provision of FSS Act and the rules, telling the apex court its members were small-time businessmen engaged in bakery, sweetshops and petty manufacturing works.



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