Aqib Ahmad 
Srinagar, July 17: The J&K High Court on Monday directed state’s finance department to clear proposal for the creation of Food Safety Commissioner within a week.
Hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also directed accreditation of food testing laboratories by National Accreditation Board of Laboratories (NABL) so that prosecution can be initiated against those indulging in adulteration of the food items in the state.
The court’s direction followed submission by Commissioner Secretary Health Department, who was present in the court that the proposal for the creation of the post has been sent to Finance Department. The officer said that after receiving it, the proposal would be placed before the state cabinet to be chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
Consequent to the submissions, the court directed the Finance Department to conclude the exercise with week’s time. Till the full time FSC was put in place, the court asked Commissioner Secretary to hold the additional charge of the post.
The court also observed that the Health Commissioner FSC, in first instance should be in place, thereafter other staff like FSOs, Dos and FAs.
The direction on accreditation was passed by the court after counsel representing Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), explained to the court various deficiencies in complying of the Food Safety and Standard Act in the state.
He submitted that these laboratories needed to be accredited by NABL, Government of India, so that result of samples lifted from market could be done without referring them to referral laboratories outside the state.
Subsequently, the court directed the concerned authorities to upgrade the laboratories by NABL so that prosecution can be launched against the violators.
Last year, the then chief secretary, B. R Sharma, who appeared before the court, had in fairness admitted that the FSSA 2006 has not been implemented in the manner it ought to be implemented in the state. He, however, had assured the court that he will immediately take review of the all aspects concerning the implementation of the FSSA. He had also assured that without waiting for the financial assistance from the government of India, funds for setting up “technologically advanced laboratories” both at Jammu and Srinagar would be immediately provided by the state and the labouratories will be established shortly.