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More stringent measures for milk cheats: SC

  • Expressing concern over the 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 by only up to six months in jail or fine.

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

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

    "It will be in order, if the Centre considers making suitable amendments in the penal provisions on 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 SC directed the government to spread awareness about the hazardous impact of milk adulteration and methods for detection of common adulterants in food. It directed the Centre and states to evolve a complaint mechanism for checking corruption and other unethical practices.

    "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 a 2011 report of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which said that over 68% of milk sold in the market was found to be adulterated.

    The report said cases of milk adulteration were rampant, with all samples in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand and Daman & Diu found to have been adulterated.

    The court passed the order on a bunch of petitions filed by people from different states seeking its direction to governments to provide for stringent punishment for milk adulteration. Advocate Anurag Tomar, appearing for the petitioners, contended that milk contaminated with synthetic material was being sold in various states, posing serious threat to the life and health of consumers.
     

    OUR TAKE

    Milk being one of the most common item in an Indian household, should also be an item which is pure and healthy in the right terms for the family to be healthy. Surprising is not the fact that the milk we get at our homes might be adulterated. We have all experienced that at one time or another. Surprising is the fact that these adulterated samples have been found in states where inequality with respect to nutrition is the highest and where nutritional data is really shocking. The government should make sure such criminals are punished with severe sentences and with a strict hand.


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