The High Court on Thursday rebuked Bangladesh Food Safety Authority chairman Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque and asked him to appear before it on June 16 to explain his failure to remove and destroy 52 substandard food products of 43 companies.
The bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil also asked him to explain in two weeks why he would not be punished for contempt of the court for not complying with its May 12 order to remove and destroy the substandard products and take action against the manufacturers.
The bench also asked the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution to publish results of 93 samples of food products and submit the report to it on June 16.
It passed the orders after hearing a supplementary application Conscious Consumers’ Society secretary Palash Mahmud filed on Thursday.
Petitioner’s lawyer Shihab Uddin Khan argued that industries minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun told a press conference on May 2 that the institution collected 406 samples of 27 types of food products for laboratory tests and reports on 313 samples were already prepared of which 52 were found substandard.
The court asked the institution to complete the retesting of samples of 43 substandard food products and submit the report to it by June 13.
The retesting was ordered after hearing three petitions filed by ACI brand of salt, Pran brands of lachchha vermicelli and turmeric power, and Quasem Food Products brand of Sun chips for allowing them to sell new products of the brands.
During the hearing, the court said that the companies would be allowed to sell new products if BSTI found them standard in the retesting.
BSTI suspended licences of various companies to market 43 of the 52 substandard food products.
It cancelled licences of the rest nine substandard food products as the companies did not respond to BSTI notice asking for explanation for the production and marketing of substandard products.
The court rebuked Bangladesh Food Safety Authority chairman as its lawyer argued that it could not remove the substandard products from the capital as it had only 17 employees in Dhaka.
The court asked why the 17 employees failed to seize a single substandard food product from the markets like Agora near its office at Eskaton.
‘Are you afraid of the big companies that were producing substandard products,’ the court asked.
The authority informed the court that it requested deputy commissioners to take steps to remove the substandard products and stop their production in the district concerned.
The court appreciated the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection director general for seizing some substandard products conducting drives across the country.
It found that ACI Salt did not have production date on the packet placed by writ petitioner Palash
The court rebuked ACI when its lawyer Rokanuddin Mahmud said that ACI Salt quality might have been damaged due to kitchen temperature.
The court asked if consumers would need to keep ACI Salt in freezers to make them consumable.
Rokanuddin with Mustafizur Rahman Khan appeared for ACI, MK Rahman appeared for Pran and Tanjib Ul Alam stood for Sun chips.
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