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SHC orders ‘strict campaign’ against hazardous chhaliya products

SHC orders ‘strict campaign’ against hazardous chhaliya products

HYDERABAD: A division bench of the Sindh High Court’s Hyderabad circuit has directed all sessions judges to order their respective subordinate magistrates to pay surprise visits and take action in accordance with law against those found selling hazardous food in the name of chhaliya [crushed betel nut-based products packed in small pouches].

In its order, the bench comprising Justice Salahuddin Panhwar and Justice Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui on Friday also directed the DIGs of Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad ranges to launch a campaign against all factories and outlets offering such products. The order said that such campaigns should not be a formality but they must ensure that every single guilty party should face action in accordance with the relevant law.

It said that if any such products were not otherwise declared as injurious or in contravention of law, requisite testing/chemical examination be done first to prevent such campaign from being exploited on plea of any prejudice. Such report should be submitted to the bench within 10 days.

The bench appointed Jhematmal Jethanand as amicus curiae to assist the court with regard to relevant laws and authorities.

It expected the additional advocate general and advocate Asif Talpur will assist court on this issue on the next date of hearing (Aug 28). The director general of health services, director food and district health officer of Tando Allahyar have been directed to attend the next hearing.

The court passed the order on a constitutional petition filed by Jalil Ahmed through advocate Mohammad Iqbal, praying to the court to direct the respondent inspector general of Sindh police and SSPs of eight districts to provide legal protection to petitioner’s firm — J.A. Chhaliya Masala — its employees, distributors, authorised agents and others associated with the business.

He stated that his company ran the business legally and the Trademark Registration Authority had issued registration certificate through its Karachi registry. He complained that police were demanding bribe from transporters carrying his product.

On Aug 9, the court had directed the Tando Allahyar DHO to take samples of the petitioner’s product, get them analysed and submit a report on whether it was dangerous to health or not.

The DHO submitted the report prepared by the Food Analysis Laboratory, Hyderabad. The report dated Aug 10 suggested that the product was injurious to health and could not be recommended for human consumption within the meaning of Section 5 of the Pure Food Ordinance of 1960.

The DHO stated that the petitioner’s factory was sealed and an FIR against him under the relevant laws would be registered.

The bench expressed its reservation over how the authorities were permitting/issuing licences of chhaliya or how licences were issued without approval/registration etc from concerned authorities that were solely established for such purposes under the law.

It also observed that under fictitious licences, many persons were selling these types of gutka and chhaliya which otherwise were hazardous to health of common man.

Notice issued to ACE chairman

In a separate public interest litigation concerning issues of the Mirpurkhas Civil Hospital, the bench issued show-cause notice to the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) chairman for his failure to file a report after conducting an inquiry.

The court appointed Faisal Bashir Memon, the ACE director (inquiries) at Karachi, to hold an inquiry into the affairs of the hospital as well as the newly-constructed buildings/departments, and alleged irregularities with regard to hospital affairs over the last three years.

“In case of any illegality, he shall proceed against delinquent officials as per law,” the bench said, and asked Mr Memon to complete this exercise within four weeks and submit a report to the court/authority for further proceedings under intimation to this court.

With regard to the shortage of specialists at the hospital, the court ordered the chief secretary and health secretary to ensure filling of the vacancies within the next 15 days and posting of medical officers, including female, within a month.

The court adjourned the matter to Aug 28 and directed the project director, Noor Mohammad Samoon, to appear in person in respect of handing over of the new building of the hospital to the health department within a month. It called for making the new set-up functional within three months.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2017

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