Observing the authorities' failure to prevent dishonest businessmen from using chemicals to ripen fruits, the High Court has issued five directives to stop the practice, and entry of such imported fruits into the country.
The court ordered the government to set up chemical test units at all land and sea ports in six months and to release the imported fruits from the ports after chemical tests to make sure that no chemical-laced fruits can enter the land.
The HC issued the directives in a full judgement released yesterday. The verdict came on February 29, 2012 following a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh to stop the use of chemicals in fruits.
The petitioner's counsel Manzill Murshid told The Daily Star that it was possible to stop the use of chemicals in fruits if the HC directives were followed properly. He also said the government had set up food courts in every district to deal with the cases filed for adulteration of food, but those courts had not become functional, as food analysts, who are supposed to file cases, had not been appointed yet.
In the verdict, the HC asked police to deploy personnel at mango orchards (commercial) in Rajshahi and in major harvesting areas to stop the use of chemicals to ripen mangoes.
It ordered the authorities to monitor fruit markets and warehouses through surveillance committees in every month all over the country to check sales of chemical-laced fruits.
The government has been asked to issue a circular to take legal steps against such practice and to ensure that the perpetrators will be indicted.
The HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik and Justice Jahangir Hossain also directed the government to prepare guidelines to stop the use of chemicals in ripening fruits in six months and circulate the guidelines to the local administrations.
“...the petitioner brought the allegation against the respondents (official concerned of the government) that they have failed to take necessary measures against some corrupted-businessmen who used to ripen fruits by using chemical which are absolutely injurious to health,” the judges of the HC bench said in the verdict.
They said, “Article 18(1) of our constitution contemplates that the state shall take or adopt effective measures to prevent the consumption, except for medical purposes or for such other purposes as may be prescribed by law, of alcohol and other intoxicating drinks and of drug which are injurious to health”.
Hence, the respondents, who are representatives of the state, are duty bound to take effective measures for preventing any misuse of chemicals in the name of business, they said.
Secretaries to the ministries of commerce, home and food, inspector general of police, managing director of Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute (BSTI), director general of Rapid Action Battalion, director of BSTI, commissioner of Rajshahi division and its deputy inspector general of police, and chairman of the National Board of Revenue have been made respondents to the verdict.