Traders have been protesting the Act saying it is impractical and harsh
The Madras High Court has stayed the implementation of some of the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 in the state.
On April 26, Justice K Venkataraman granted the interim order on a writ petition filed by the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industries. The sections of the Act on which the stay will apply include rules on adulterated food, registration, licensing, provisions of punishment and formation of scientific panels and committees.
Traders’ organisations have been protesting the provisions saying it is impractical and too harsh. “The kind of hygiene conditions the Act asks for cannot be maintained by small traders and shop owners in the current scenario of the country,” says S Rethinavelu, senior president, Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
He adds the punishment for failure to comply includes fine up to Rs 10 lakh and six months to 10 years of imprisonment which is too harsh. The traders say there is more stress on misbranding than adulteration, which makes the seller more responsible than producers or manufacturers. They are also unhappy with the current licensing and registration process and the powers vested with the food safety inspectors to act against traders and seize their products.
“The designated officers have the power to issue and cancel the licenses which can be used to harass the traders and may give rise to corruption,” says Rethinavelu.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) refused to comment on the implication of the order but said it would file a counter to the court order shortly.