The Bombay high court (HC) has asked a sweet sellers’ association to deposit Rs1 lakh for challenging the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) decision, asking the traders’ body to put a ‘best before’ date on loose sweets being sold by them from October 1. The court held that the association was trying to undo the precautionary measure initiated by the food department in public interest and dismissed the petition.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Shri Mumbai Mishtanna Vayasai Sahakari Mandal, which has around 250 members. The bench was informed by advocate Uday Warunjikar — who represented the sweet sellers’ association — that the FSSAI had issued an order on February 24, mandating sweetmeat shops selling non-packaged or loose sweets to display the date of manufacturing and ‘best before’ date on the container or tray holding the sweets. Warunjikar submitted that this was the first of the three order issued by the FSSAI. The other two orders were issued on September 25 and 30.
While the September 25 order reiterated the February 24 order and stated: “In the public interest and to ensure food safety, it has been decided that in case of non-packaged/loose sweets, the container/tray holding sweets at the outlet for sale should display the ‘best before’ date of the product mandatorily, with effect from October 1.”
Warunjikar informed the court that while the September 30 FSSAI order clarified that the September 25 order was only pertaining to Indian sweets and local language was allowed to be used on the container in which the sweets were to be packaged, the directive was discriminatory and hence the association moved the PIL seeking setting aside of the three orders of FSSAI passed under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
After hearing the submissions, the court observed, “The petitioner seeks to undo what the authority proposed to do for the benefit of consumers and therefore, it is thoroughly misconceived. We order the petitioner to deposit Rs1 lakh to the advocates’ Covid-19 welfare fund.” The court said that it will pass a detailed and reasoned order later and dismissed the petition.
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