The Tripura High Court has recently directed the state government to file an affidavit indicating as to whether any testing laboratory or controlled mechanism exists for checking and testing water being manufactured and sold as packaged drinking water in Tripura.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice S.G. Chattopadhyay heard the public interest petition on the purity and safety of drinking water in bulk packages of 20 litres.
In the petition, the petitioner has referred to a detailed statutory network under which any such manufacturer and supplier of bottled water would have to obtain permissions from various authorities and maintain certain standards of purity and packaging related requirements. The case of the petitioner is that there are a large number of manufacturers and suppliers of such bottled drinking water in Tripura who do not conform to these statutory standards.
While hearing the matter, the Court found from the affidavit of the Bureau of Indian Standards that there appears to be a body known as “All Tripura Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturer Association” and such association had submitted a letter to the Chief Secretary of the Government of Tripura.
The Court found from the cause title that although allegations have been made that packaged drinking water is being sold in Tripura not meeting the standards set in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, no producer or manufacturer or seller has been implemented as respondent.
Consequently, the Bench is of the considered view that it is necessary to implead the All Tripura Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturer Association, the Public Works Department (Drinking Water & Sanitation), Government of Tripura and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), as respondent and issued notice to them.
The High Court directed the state government to file an affidavit indicating as to whether any testing laboratory or controlled mechanism exists for checking and testing water being manufactured and sold as packaged drinking water in Tripura.
The Court further directed that the petitioner shall put out a notice in the local newspapers both in English as well as in vernacular having wide circulation in Tripura indicating the filing of the present PIL and issue notice to any person who may be likely to be affected by the outcome of the order that may be passed herein to come and participate in the proceeding, if they so desire.
While issuing notice to the FSSAI, the High Court also call upon them to file their affidavit as to why their order dated 26.03.2021 which is a direction under Section 16(5) of the FSS Act, 2006 regarding the requirement of BIS license and application receipt while applying for FSSAI license to manufacture packaged drinking water and mineral water has not been implemented by other authority including BIS.
In view of the fact that an order under Section 16(5) of the FSS Act, 2006 dated 26.03.2021 has been issued, the High Court hereby directed the State to visit the location of all Packaged Drinking Water producers and verify whether the said producers have the necessary license/registration under the FSS Act, 2006 and any such producer or manufacturer who does not possess the said license or registration or does not possess the BIS certification should immediately be stopped and such manufacturers or producers be directed to comply with the FSSAI statute as well as the consequences thereof.
The Court posted the matter for January 31, 2022 for further hearing.