KARACHI, April 25: The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the provincial food secretary to place on record the total number of food inspectors and other officials and the actions so far taken against the traders of spurious and substandard confectionery items by the food department over the past one year, adds staff reporter.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam gave this direction while hearing a constitutional petition against the menace of gutka and mainpuri and the quacks playing havoc with the lives of people.

The petition was filed by Rana Faizul Hasan, a civil right campaigner and secretary general of the United Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The bench also directed the Sindh health secretary to bring on record the total number of drug inspectors and number of challans/actions taken against quacks within their area of jurisdiction.

The food and health secretaries were also directed to place on record the qualifications and functions of the drug inspectors.

Expressing grave concern over the availability of spurious and substandard confectionery items containing artificial food colours and substandard cooking oil, the bench observed it appeared that there was some lacking in the rules under pure food laws enabling scrupulous traders “to bargain with the lives of citizens”.

The court also observed that the Food Ordinance, 1960 and the rules subsequently framed under it needed re-visitation.

It said that effective legislative measures could not be taken in this regard as the huge financial interests of scrupulous traders and the regulators in the activity.

“This petition is pending since May 11, 2011 and no effective measures came to light despite repeated orders of the court,” the bench remarked.

The bench went on to observe: “This is opportune time, when it is expected that the present setup on law footing may revise Pure Food Rules to ensure that all such consumables are brought within the net of the Pure Food Ordinance, 1960 and effective regulatory machinery is provided thereunder”.

The bench also directed its office to forward the copy of the court order to the provincial law secretary and minister “to take remedial measures as rule framing is even possible”.

The court also issued notice to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Counsel to render assistance in the matter pertaining to unqualified medical practitioners in the province.

Senior lawyer Salahuddin Ahmed, who was appointed as amicus curiae, was directed to assist the court to examine whether invoking of Section 144 of the criminal procedure code would be effective measure to curb the menace of quacks, gutka and spurious confectionery items.

Petitions dismissed

A three-member appellate bench of the SHC headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar dismissed the petition of Mehboob Ali seeking disqualification of Sardar Wahid Bux, a candidate for a National Assembly seat (NA-203) in Shikarpur.

The petitioner had challenged the acceptance of Mr Bux nomination papers by the returning officer.

The bench also dismissed the petition of Mir Khan Khoso against the acceptance of nomination papers of Mohammed Khan Junejo for the provincial assembly seat PS-81 in Sanghar.

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