Supreme Court favors life imprisonment for milk adulteration

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Supreme Court wants stringent punishment of life imprisonment for milk adulteration.
  • At present, milk adulteration is punishable only up to six months jail term or fine.
  • States like UP and West Bengal have already amended law making adulteration punishable up to life imprisonment.

Expressing concern over alarming level of milk adulteration  in the country, the Supreme Court on Friday favoured stringent punishment of life imprisonment for the offence which at present is punishable only up to six months jail term or fine.

A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit said that there was an urgent need to tackle the menace of growing sale of adulterated and synthetic milk+ in different parts of the country. It said that the milk adulteration could adversely affect the growth of future generations as it was the staple diet of all children and infants.

Asking Centre and states to consider to amend the present lenient law, the bench said that states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha had already amended the law making adulteration punishable up to life imprisonment and there was nothing wrong in following their footsteps for making stringent law.

“It will be in order, if the Centre considers making suitable amendments in the penal provisions at par with the provisions contained in the state amendments to the IPC. It is also desirable that the Centre revisits the Food Safety and Standards Act to revise the punishment for adulteration making it more deterrent in cases where the adulterant can have an adverse impact on health,” it said.

The court directed the government to spread awareness about the hazardous impact of milk adulterations and to teach people easy methods for detection of common adulterants in food by conducting workshops. It directed the Centre and state governments to evolve a complaint mechanism for checking corruption and other unethical practices of food authorities and their officers.

“Since in India traditionally infants/children are fed milk, adulteration of milk and its products is a concern and stringent measures need to be taken to combat it,” the bench said and referred to 2011 report of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which said that over 68% of the milk sold in the market found adulterated.

The report said that cases of milk adulteration was rampant in the country and the situation was worst in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand and Daman and Diu where adulteration in milk was found up to 100%.

The court passed the order on a bunch of petition filed by people from different states seeking its direction to the governments to make stringent punishment for the offence of milk adulteration.

Advocate Anurag Tomar, appearing for the petitioners, contended that milk contaminated with synthetic material was being sold in various states particularly in northern states posing serious threat to the life and health of the consumers. He pleaded that the Centre should be directed to amend the prevailing law to provide punishment of life imprisonment for the offence.

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