The right to life and human dignity under art 21 of the Constitution also incorporates the right to have food articles and beverages which are free from harmful residues such as pesticides and insecticides, the Supreme Court has ruled.
The apex court said that food articles which are harmful and injurious to public health had the potential of striking at the fundamental right to life guaranteed by the Constitution and it was the government’s responsibility to take steps for protection of life and health.A bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and DipakMisra directed the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to “gear up their resources with their counterparts in all the states and union territories and conduct periodical inspection and monitoring of major fruits and vegetable markets.”
In the words of the apex court, “We may emphasise that any food article which is hazardous or injurious to public health is a potential danger to the fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. A paramount duty is cast on the States and its authorities to achieve an appropriate level of protection to human life and health…”
The ruling came while disposing of the petition by an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, seeking the setting up of an ‘independent expert/technical committee to evaluate the harmful effects of soft drinks on human health, particularly on the health of the children’.
The bench disposed of the PIL seeking to set up an independent technical panel to evaluate the harmful effects of soft drinks on human health, particularly on children, saying the Food Supply and Standards (FSS) Act, the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act along with their rules and regulations were sufficient to deal with the grievances.The apex court, in its verdict, referred to various regulatory provisions of the FSS and PFA Acts and said they be “interpreted and applied in the light of the Constitutional Principles” to achieve an appropriate level of protection of human life and health.