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Life imprisonment for food adulteration under new law

The Food Safety and Standards Act passed by Parliament in 2006 will come into force in the next three-four months. Among other things, it will regulate food safety standards and usher in uniform licensing in the country

The new anti-adulteration law makes food adulteration an offence punishable with life imprisonment and manufacturers can be fined up to Rs10 lakh, health and family welfare minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said, reports PTI.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, he said that the Food Safety and Standards Act passed by Parliament in 2006 will come into force in the next three-four months.

The Act integrates multiplicity of provisions under various food-related laws. It will, among other things, regulate food safety standards and uniform licensing in the country.

Of the 101 Sections in the Act, so far 43 have been notified and the rest will be notified shortly, he said.

The delay, he said, was mainly because several subjects were not under the health ministry and had to be brought under a common ambit.

Employees under various departments had to be transferred to the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India that has been established under the Act.

The new Act provides for penalty on manufacturers of adulterated food items including fine of Rs1 lakh to Rs10 lakh to be adjudicated by an officer of the rank of sub-divisional magistrate. Earlier, the fine was to be decided by the court, which will now decide on imprisonment.

Adulterers face (a sentence of) six months to life imprisonment, the minister said.

“The new Act aims to ensure safe, hygienic and wholesome food for the citizens of the country. It also bestows responsibility on food manufacturers and traders to manufacture and supply safe, hygienic and wholesome food,” he said.

It also provides provisions regarding food recall procedures and improvement notices. Adjudication processes have also been introduced for speedy disposal of cases under the new Act, he added.

“I agree that the speed at which State governments should have been taking the lead (in controlling adulteration) is not happening,” he said, adding only 7.21% of samples collected by States during the past three years have been found adulterated.



Shadi Katyal

7 years ago

The Bill was passed in 2006 and has yet to be enforced shows the real situation of Indian govt concern for the health of citizens.
Why should a unit involved is not shut down along with fines from 10 Lacs to 1 crores. After all such plants have made enough money and risked many lives?
Can judiciary enforce such laws immediately or will it take years while the culprit is making money hand over fist?
What happened to all those bills passed during Indira Gandhi regime?
Does this Bill cover medicines?

Praful Patel… Still Not Grounded

Civil aviation minister, Praful Patel, is as far removed from the Air India reality as all the worthy editors who would routinely hail him as the best minister Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan has ever seen. Within two years of his epoch-making decision to merge the two PSU airlines, the combined entity, Air India, was brought down to its knees, begging for alms from the government to buy its next meal. The airline is in danger of going completely kaput even today but Patel believes otherwise. Just yesterday (13th April), he proudly announced that the worst is over for Air India and it would soon be back to its winning ways. That would be great news, except that Praful seems to be in his own dreamland. Look at the letter Arvind Jadhav, Air India chairman, wrote to the Union home ministry pleading with it to clear dues amounting to Rs15 crore. The money is due to Air India as costs incurred by the ministry towards the travel by senior officers and engaging special flights for lifting the central police forces during elections. The Intelligence Bureau owes Rs1.5 crore, while CRPF and BSF owe Rs2.5 crore each for using Air India to take cargo to north-eastern states and also to Jammu & Kashmir. In the letter, Mr Jadhav pleads that Air India’s financial situation is so critical that if the ministry clears the dues, Air India would be able to release a portion of salaries to the employees. For Air India, which is losing about Rs8 crore a day according to one official estimate in 2008, Rs15 crore is peanuts. Such is the pitiable state of the airliner. Air India is grounded, but Praful Patel is obviously still flying high.

Digvijay Lights a Naxal Bomb
Home minister P Chidambaram was just about recovering from the acute loss of face after the CRPF massacre at Dantewada, when Digvijay Singh, the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, has detonated a political bomb under Mr Chidambaram’s chair. Writing about the Naxalite problem in the Economic Times (14th April), Digvijay has openly disagreed with Mr Chidambaram’s way of handling the issue, dismissing it as an ill-conceived ‘law and order’ outlook of the home minister. Actually, he said worse. He called Mr Chidambaram ‘rigid’ and said that he was himself a victim of the latter’s ‘intellectual arrogance’ though they both continue to be ‘good friends even now’. The last bit better be true, because Digvijay is quite clearly the rising star in the AICC hierarchy. Digvijay, it is said, has Rahul Gandhi’s ears and is edging out Ahmed Patel as the most powerful general secretary of the Party. (Ahmed Patel, also political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, recently lost his seat on the high table at the Jawahar Bhavan Trust to Motilal Vora after Rahul Gandhi assumed leadership of the Trust.) So Digvijay writing a signed piece in a national daily openly opposing his own Party’s star minister has to have some political significance beyond the stale footnote at the end of the article: ‘Views are personal’. Particularly because the article appeared just 48 hours after the prime minister issued orders to all his Cabinet colleagues that Mr Chidambaram, and only Mr Chidambaram, will talk on behalf of the government on the Naxal issue. Digvijay obviously did not violate the prime minister’s diktat because he is not part of the government. But, is that the story behind the story then? Is there disagreement between the Party and the government on the extremely vocal, almost provocative, way of dealing with the problem? The official spokesperson of the Congress said later in the day that the party disapproved of such public spanking of the home minister. But you know what, Digvijay is not a political intern that he needs to be reminded of the rules of filial engagement. I hate the cliché, but there is definitely something more than meets the eye.{break}

Does India Want Its Money Back?
The government has identified nine territories outside India where Indians park their slush funds; it issued a notification on 13th April in an attempt to negotiate with these governments for repatriating the ill-gotten cash. The notification naming such ‘specified territories’ was required under Explanation 2 to Section 90 of the Income Tax Act. The territories so identified are: Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar (all British overseas territories) Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, (all British Crown dependencies), Netherlands Antilles (an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Netherlands) and Macau (a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China). A notification declaring Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, as a specified territory for the purpose is also under process. The notification means that the Indian government will now be able to initiate and negotiate agreements with these specified territories for exchange of information for prevention of evasion or avoidance of income tax and assistance in collection of income tax. The Income Tax Act was amended last year; Section 90 now empowers the Central government to enter into such agreements, in addition to already existing provisions/agreements with the government of any country to prevent evasion of taxes. Is this the big fight for the massive amounts of Indian money stashed away in Swiss banks that the BJP so badly wanted to make an election issue last time round? Well, notifications are notifications; they are not worth the paper they are written on unless accompanied by vigorous action. And this government’s tardiness in approaching the Swiss banks when they were willing to give details is too well known for this notification to send the crooks’ pulse rates racing.

For a Place on the RBI Board
R Gopalan, who took over as secretary (financial services in the Union ministry of finance), has had to sit out of the board meetings of the Reserve Bank of India and State Bank of India. It is customary for the secretary, financial services, to be on the board of RBI and SBI but Mr Gopalan cannot assume the role because finance secretary, Ashok Chawla, who was earlier holding additional charge as secretary financial services, has still not resigned from the boards of these two organisations. Now who will bell the cat and tell Mr Chawla to go?

Mani’s Minor Headache
Mani Shankar Aiyar, who recently made a comeback to parliamentary politics with his nomination to the Rajya Sabha, could be in a spot of bother, and it’s that old bugbear—Office of Profit law—coming into play again. Mani, who will have taken oath as an MP by the time you read this, resigned as honorary advisor of the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST) only after his nomination was announced on 19th March and notified on 22nd March. Two factions of the Tamil Nadu Congress are happy that Mani is in trouble. As a matter of fact, one section is actually goading a legal expert to write to the President of India seeking Mani’s disqualification. The whole legal debate will hinge on Mani’s letter, of course. He said he is resigning his post with BPST with effect from 19th March, but his letter is dated 27th March. Can a resignation be back-dated? That is the headache Mani might have to live with for some days. Tough luck for somebody who managed to get nominated to the Rajya Sabha from the ‘litterateur’ category. Mani and litterateur? Next, I could be Shakespeare!

Just Think about It…
Life must have been pretty tough for Shashi Tharoor at the UN. Twenty-nine years and not one controversy!

BV Rao has wide experience across print, TV and digital media. He was group editor at ZEE News and senior editor with DNA and Indian Express.


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