More Power To Food Safety Officers By Supreme Court To Stop Gutkha Offenders

The Supreme Court has vested more power with the food safety officers in order to stop the sale of banned noxious food items like gutkha and pan masala reports the Times of India. The apex court has allowed these officers to move criminal proceedings against the offenders by both lodging a case under the Indian Penal Code as well as the fine levied by the Food Safety Standards (FSS) Act.

Officers To Move Criminal Proceedings

“There is no bar to a trial or conviction of an offender under two different enactments, but the bar is only to the punishment of the offender twice for the offence. Where an act or an omission constitutes an offence under two enactments, the offender may be prosecuted and punished under either or both enactments but shall not be liable to be punished twice for the same offence,” the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said. The apex court crushed the Bombay High Court ruling that the offenders of FSS Act can only be penalised according to the act and that no proceedings under the IPC can be lodged against them by a food safety officer reports the Times of India.

More Power To Food Safety Officers By Supreme Court To Stop Gutkha Offenders

The report further says that the non-compliance of the FSS Act which includes sale and transportation of banned consumable items can be fined for up to Rs.2 lakh but a punishment under the IPC can lead to up to six months of imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs. 1000 for selling noxious consumables.

Quashing The High Court Ruling

“There is no dispute that Section 55 of the FSS Act provides for penalty to be imposed for non-compliance of the requirements of the Act, Rules or Regulations or orders issued there under by the food safety officer. But, we are afraid that we cannot agree with the conclusion of the HC that non-compliance of the provisions of the Act, Rules or Regulations or orders cannot be subject matter of a prosecution under IPC unless expressly or impliedly barred. The HC is clearly wrong in holding that action can be initiated against defaulters only under Section 55 of FSS Act or proceedings under Section 68 for adjudication have to be taken,” said the apex court bench.

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