Expressing concern over the alarming level of milk adulteration cases in the country, which is a serious health hazard, the Supreme Court on Friday favoured stringent punishment of life imprisonment for the offence.
A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit said there was an urgent need to tackle the menace of growing sale of adulterated and synthetic milk. At present the offence is only punishable up to six months in jail or fine, which is not enough.
The reports said milk adulteration could adversely affect the growth of future generations as it was the staple diet of children and infants.
The bench said Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Odisha had already amended the law making adulteration punishable by up to life imprisonment and there was nothing wrong in following their footsteps for a stringent law.
" It is also desirable that the Centre revisits the Food Safety and Standards Act to revise the punishment for adulteration making it more deterrent in cases where the adulterant can have an adverse impact on health," it said.
The SC directed the government to spread awareness about the hazardous impact of milk adulteration and methods for detection of common adulterants in food. It directed the Centre and states to evolve a complaint mechanism for checking corruption and other unethical practices.
Adulteration of milk and its products is a concern and stringent measures need to be taken to combat it, the bench said and referred to a 2011 report of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which said that over 68% of milk sold in the market was found to be adulterated.