New Delhi, May 25: The Supreme Court will hear on May 30 a plea by the J&K Traders and Manufacturers Federation (JKTMF) challenging the state high court's direction asking them to give an undertaking that if food supplied by them was not fit for human consumption, their units would be liable to be sealed.
An apex court vacation bench of Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud agreed to hear the plea by the JKTMF after senior counsel Jayant Bhushan told the court that the food manufacturing and processing units have also been asked if they had food testing laboratories with qualified staff manning them.
The high court had asked the units engaged in food business that they have to be compliant of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
The J&K High Court in a suo motu PIL on April 27, 2016, order had directed 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."
Telling the court that the members of the JKTMF were small time businessmen engaged in bakery, sweetshops and petty manufacturing works, senior counsel Jayant Bhushan appearing for the Federation told the vacation bench that the High Court's direction were contrary to provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act.
Bhushan told the court that under the provisions of FSS Act, 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 licence.
The bench was told that Section 32 of the Food Safety 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 said under Section 33 of the FSS Act the premises or equipment used for food business should not be shut without affording an opportunity of being heard to the food business operator.
Bhushan 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.