CHENNAI: Planning to prosecute someone for making or selling unsafe food? You may have to wait a while, as there is no court in Chennai where you can file such cases, as the Express finds out.
For years, the Chennai Corporation filed cases of food adulteration under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 at designated courts - court number 19 and 20 inside Ripon Building.
However, all that changed after the Food Safety and Standard Act of 2006 was introduced, under which the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was set up.
After it came into existence, the new act superseded eight existing acts. Since then, such cases are filed by Food Safety Officer (FSO) in judicial magistrate courts in other parts of the State and the country but not in Chennai.
“When we went to file cases, the judicial magistrate courts in Chennai declined to take food adulteration cases, saying they never handled such cases earlier.
This is because the cases were filed only at the designated courts till then,” said a senior official. So as many as 30 unsafe food cases are pending in Chennai over the years, the official added.
The food safety commissioner has informed the State government, and that the home department seem to have identified the court to file these cases. The Government Order in this regard is expected soon, the official added.
According to the present procedure, the Food Safety Officer (FSO) files application for adjudication with the district revenue officer (DRO), an adjudicating officer but with limited powers.
The district revenue officer hears cases related to substandard products and misbranding, and is only authorised to impose a fine up to Rs 5 lakh. Only the courts can award punishment involving imprisonment.
The fine amount differs for each section: misbranding, Rs 3 lakh while misleading advertisement can be fined as much as Rs 10 lakh.