SC contemplating limiting number of guests, manage food wastage at weddings
The Delhi government informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it is contemplating a policy to “limit” the number of guests at “extravagant” weddings and institutionalise catering arrangements to check food wastage at such functions.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur was told by Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev that they have discussed the issues flagged by the court in its December 6 order in which the court had expressed concern over wastage of food and mis-utilisation of water in marriage functions.
Dev, present in the court, said the government was thinking on exactly the same lines as observed last week by the court and endeavour of authorities was to balance the interest of people of Delhi.
“It is stated (by chief secretary) that some alternatives are being discussed and there appears to be at least two options that are available and two-pronged strategy is also being actively considered so that availability of food in functions and the number of guests is limited, and the quality of food is also maintained,” the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta, noted in its order.
Dev said he had discussed the matter with the LG and “there seems to be a consensus between the view of the Government of NCT of Delhi and the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi in this regard”.
“We can have guest control on one hand and regulation under the Food Safety and Standards Act where institutional arrangements can be made between the caterers and NGOs, who are providing foods to the destitutes,” he told the bench. Dev said there was “artificial enhanced demand” in the society for “extravagant” marriage functions in Delhi.
He said there were reports that presently, the excess food in marriage functions either goes in waste or the “stale” food was used by caterers in subsequent wedding functions which could led to serious health issues. “Treatment of waste water is also a serious issue which led to environmental degradation. Whatever directions the Supreme Court will give, we will follow. We will have to tackle these two issues,” he said.
The bench told Dev that they have to first come out with a policy in this regard and the second major step would be its proper implementation. The counsel appearing for Delhi government said eight weeks time was needed to come out with the policy. He said all the caterers in Delhi were licensed and were registered under the Food Safety and Standards Act.
“The chief secretary is saying that stale food was being used in functions. There should be a system to check the quality of food being served in such functions,” the bench said.
The bench noted in its order that the chief secretary had informed the court that they were working on a strategy so that quality of food in marriages was maintained. Dev also said they were also looking into the aspect of mis-utilisation of water in such functions.
The court told the chief secretary to come out with a policy in this regard by within six weeks.
“We grant time till January 31, 2019 to enable the LG and chief secretary to formulate a policy and to ensure its strict implementation in the larger public interest, including the interest of the people of Delhi,” the bench said.
The chief secretary also said the policy would also take into consideration the aspect of management of motels and farm houses in and around Delhi.
“The earlier policy was framed in terms of the notification dated October 30, 2007 and has been working well. It has been modified to some extent from time to time. Whether those modifications are at all necessary will also be taken into consideration. The policy shall also explore the possibility of issuing a guest control order,” he said.
“In other words, a complete and comprehensive policy will be prepared by the Government of NCT of Delhi and the LG so that there is no mis-use of properties, food and water, etc. and shall also be formulated in a manner to avoid congestion including traffic problems caused due to these functions being held at these motels/farm houses,” the bench noted.
It said the LG was free to consult the court-appointed monitoring committee on sealing and the special task force, which was set up to ensure implementation of law on unauthorised constructions and encroachments here, on these issues.
The court has posted the matter for further hearing on February 5. During the hearing on Tuesday, the bench also dealt with the issue related to a motel here which was earlier slapped with a notice by the civic agency for not complying with fire safety measures.
The bench was told the Delhi government’s counsel that Delhi Fire Service had recently inspected the motel and have found that some fire safety norms were not complied with yet. The counsel appearing for motel said they have complied with nine out of 11 objections raised by the authority and work for remaining two aspects was going on.
“Take your time and do the rest. Wedding season or no wedding season, we cannot put the lives of people on risk,” the bench told the counsel appearing for the motel after he urged that they be given two-three days time to complete the work.
The court vacated its earlier interim order and directed for re-sealing of the motel on December 15. The top court is seized of the issue related to validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations which protect illegal construction from being sealed.