HC sets 10-day deadline for guidelines on regulating junk food

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Junk Food: HC sets 10-day deadline
New Delhi, July 24: Centre was today given a 10-day deadline by the Delhi High Court to come out with detailed guidelines for regulating sale of junk food and aerated drinks in and around school premises in the country.

"No further extension will be given," a bench headed by Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed firmly told the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Terming the non-filing of draft guidelines by the Centre as "unfortunate", the court asked the FSSAI to submit it within 10 days.

Earlier, Additional Solicitor General Rajeeve Mehra had assured the court that the draft guidelines would be filed by July this year. "Earlier, this court had recorded that draft guidelines would be filed on July 24. Unfortunately, the draft guidelines are not ready. Now, the counsel for the Centre states that the draft guidelines would be ready within 10 days. Let it be filed within 10 days," the bench, also comprising Justice Vibhu Bakhru, said during the hearing and fixed the case for September 4.

"It is expected that parties shall adhere to this time line and no extension would be given by this court," it said, adding that the Centre would share the report with other stakeholders who will also give their suggestions or comments on the issue.

Earlier, the Centre had said that private firm AC Nielsen QRG-MARG Pvt Ltd was in the process of framing norms to regulate availability of junk foods and carbonated drinks within 500 yards of schools. It had also said that after the draft guidelines were prepared, the food processing companies would be consulted for their opinions and then the final guidelines will be made.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Rakesh Prabhakar, a lawyer for NGO 'Uday Foundation', seeking a direction banning sale of junk food and aerated drinks in and around schools.

The Delhi government had also told the court that the Lt Governor has the power to issue directions to city schools on the issue but the same can be done only after the Centre frames guidelines on it.

In January last year, the court had given six-month time to the FSSAI for framing guidelines on banning sale of junk food and aerated drinks in and around educational institutions.

The court had also asked the FSSAI to consult the All India Food Processors' Association (AIFPA) and restaurant associations for framing the guidelines.

AIFPA, in its application, had said that it deals with processing of fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, milk and milk products and also the manufacturers of biscuits and confectionery products.

It also said that it may give some advice to the FSSAI.


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