Supreme Court Notice to FSSAI on Contempt Plea Relating to Milk Adulteration

The Supreme Court sought the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) response on Friday on a contempt plea arising from a 2016 judgment of the top court in a case related to the adulteration and sale of synthetic milk in various parts of the country.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala issued a notice to the FSSAI and sought its reply to the plea.

The apex court noted that the contempt petition arises from its judgment dated August 5, 2016 by which certain directions were issued for the implementation of the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

“Liberty to implead the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. Notice, returnable on March 3, 2023, shall issue to FSSAI.

“It is clarified that the notice shall not be construed as a notice of contempt and is intended to ensure that FSSAI exercises its statutory powers to duly implement the directions of this court in the judgment dated August 5, 2016,” the bench said.

Expressing serious concern over adulteration of milk and dairy products, the apex court had, in 2016, said “stringent measures”, including amending the Food Safety and Standards Act and making it a penal offence, are needed to “combat” the menace.

The apex court had said it is also desirable that the Union of India revisits the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 to revise the punishment for adulteration, making it more deterrent in cases where the adulterant can have an adverse impact on health.

“Union of India and the state governments shall take appropriate steps to implement the Food Safety and Standards Act in a more effective manner,” it had said.

The court had asked the states to take steps to inform the “owners of dairies, dairy operators and retailers” that if chemical adulterants like pesticides, caustic soda and other chemicals are found in milk, then stringent action will be taken against them.

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