The Maharashtra government on Monday informed the Bombay high court (HC) that it has stopped supplying chikki across all anganwadis in the state from July 10.
A division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice BP Colabawalla was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by journalist Sandeep Ahire. The PIL states the chikki stock had been bought without following the due process of e-tendering, which is worth Rs 206 crore. The PIL points out that chikki was found to contain mud, gravel, crushed stones and metal plates, making it unfit for consumption.
Senior counsel Shrihari Aane, appearing for the state, said the chief minister will personally look into this matter. He told the court that the shelf life of chikki is four months and the product was made of groundnut and rajgira (amaranth). He also said that the remaining chikki has been seized from anganwadis.
The court said the main issues are if the due procedure was followed for the tender and whether chikki is unsafe for consumption and substandard in quality.
Senior counsel Atul Damle, representing the petitioner, said a report submitted by the Pune Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rendered the chikki ‘inedible’.
Aane told the court that on July 9, the state had directed the authorities to stop the supply of chikki and it did so from July 10. He also said that the current FDA commissioner is in charge of the process and has started collecting the samples to check the allegations.
The court told the state that it should exercise some sense of responsibility, especially in matters where children are concerned.
The company that manufactured the 31 lakh chikki has also been asked to file an affidavit if they have the infrastructure for their production.
The other respondents have to file a detailed affidavit on not following the procedures. The matter will net be heard on August 5.