The Bombay High Court Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) by association of sweet shops owners in Mumbai and a imposed a Rs 1 lakh fine for challenging directions of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The directions mandated sweet shops to display ‘best before date’ on the container tray of non-packaged or loose sweets from October 1.
The Court observed that the petitioner association sought to undo what the authority proposed to do for the benefit of consumers and therefore the PIL was ‘misconceived’ and imposed a fine of Rs. 1 lakh to be paid to Advocates’ Covid welfare fund.
The decision was taken in view of some instances, which were reported about the expired sweets being sold to consumers posing health hazards.
Thereafter, the FSSAI on September 25 issued an order which 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.”
The FSSAI order also said that the sweet shops may display manufacturing dates which shall be ‘purely voluntary’ and ‘non-binding’ and the shops shall display ‘best before date’ of sweets depending upon the nature of product and local conditions.
Moreover, the petitioner association said that through September 30, the FSSAI clarified that the September 25 order was applicable only to ‘Indian sweets’ and local language was allowed to be used on the container consisting the sweets. Alleging the same to be discriminatory, the association moved PIL before the HC challenging the orders passed under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
Dismissing the PIL, the Court said, “…the petitioner seeks to undo what the authority proposed to do for the benefit of consumers and therefore it is thoroughly misconceived. We order costs of Rs. 1 lakh to Advocates’ Covid welfare fund.” The Court will pass reasoned order in due course.
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