Protecting human body from diseases and ensuring safe food have become a new challenge for modern civilization. The people of Bangladesh are suffering severely due to adulterated food and contaminated water. Bangladesh needs to develop an internationally recognized system for ensuring safe food.
According to the order of the High Court Division of Bangladesh Supreme Court, the Parliament of Bangladesh passed the Safe Food Bill-2013 on October 7, 2013. Under the previous ordinance, no one could directly sue against any unsafe food producer or seller. Now, that could be done under section 66 (i) of the new law.
The government has taken initiatives to enforce the Safe Food Act - 2013 through Food Court as well as Mobile Court. Mobile Court is necessary, because in case of any offence like food adulteration immediate action is required for controlling the situation. In reaction, some anti-adulteration drives were conducted. The Mobile Courts operated found some dishonest traders using toxic chemicals in local and imported fruits, fishes, vegetables, eggs and juice. Unhygienic cooking conditions in many hotels, restaurants and fast food shops as well as selling of expired food items in the market also create a serious threat.
So, establishing Food Court was mandatory to restrain food related offences. In the section 64 (i) of new law, it is directed to establish 'Pure Food Court' in each district which shall be operated by the metropolitan magistrate or any 1st class magistrate.
Any person can make written complaint against the production of unsafe food to the chairman or his authorized representative under section 64 (i) of the act. If the chairman or his authorized representative gets sufficient evidence in favour of the written complaint, a case will be filed in the court under section 64 (ii) and (iii) within 30 days of the incident. The chairman or his authorized representative shall appoint an investigation officer under section 67 (i) of the act. The investigation officer shall apply the power of officer-in-charge of a police station to investigate the case within 90 days and he can take help from any authority if necessary.
Under section 69 of the act, the Food Court can issue arrest warrant if there is any valid ground to arrest the offender. In case of trial, any audio recording, video recording and photography can be used as evidence under section 72 of the act to prove the case. The court can fine anyone Tk 4 lakh to Tk 20 lakh and sentence him on one-year to a maximum of five-year imprisonment for 23 different offences under the act. But under section 76 civil remedy can be awarded by filing civil suit in the civil court.
However, all of our laws put importance on punishment of wrong-doers only. But the citizens can be served by prevention of offence instead of punishment of offenders. Bangladesh government is working to enact another law for controlling use of formalin and ensuring higher punishments for not following law in trading of food items. However, enacting new laws is not the moot question; the government should rather take initiatives to enforce the existing laws properly for controlling the situation and ensuring the people's right to get pure food.
Ashabur Turan is a lawyer and researcher. E-mail: [email protected]