Production and sale of adulterated milk, other food items and medicines will soon be an offence punishable with life imprisonment in Punjab.
At present, if the food, drink or drug being sold is adulterated , the offence is treated under section 272 and related provisions of the Indian Penal Code as non-cognisable, bailable, non-compoundable and can be tried by any magistrate.
The maximum punishment is six months or/and fine of up to 1,000. However, after repeated instructions of the Supreme Court, which asked state governments to shed their lenient approach towards those responsible for adulteration of milk and milk products in particular, the Punjab government has put on the fast track the process of amending the relevant IPC sections 272 to 276.
Last week, several meetings were held in which senior functionaries of the health, police and home departments participated to finalise the contours. “The process of making the law stringent, as has been advised by the Supreme Court, has begun. We have already held meetings on this issue, which is being fasttracked,” confirmed the state’s principal secretary for home affairs and justice, SS Channy.
And not restricting the proposed amendment to milk, the state gover nment has decided that even the sale of noxious food or drink, adulteration of drugs, and sale of adulterated dr ugs and sale of dr ug as a different drug or preparation, will also punishable by up to life imprisonment.
The home department will shortly send the proposal to the legal rememberancer (LR) for approval. After this, the nod of the cabinet will be sought, and then the proposed amendments will be placed before the Vidhan Sabha.
Official records say that in Punjab, between 2011 and 2013, over 3,300 milk samples were tested and nearly 800 of these were found to be adulterated. Yet, conviction rate in these matters has been abysmally low, an of ficial of the health department said.
Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha have already amended the IPC sections on similar lines, making the offence attract life ter m; it’s now cognisable, non-bailable and triable by the sessions court.
While section 272 deals with adulteration of food or drink intended for sale, 273 covers sale of noxious food or drink, 274 is for adulteration of drugs, 275 for sale of adulterated drugs, and 276 for sale of drug as a different drug or preparation.