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Sunday, 16 June, 2013, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Manjushree Naik
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is facing fresh trouble. And this time it is not about the FSS law but the issue pertains to the appointment of its present chairman.

The appointment has been challenged in the Delhi High Court by Lok Jagriti, a Ghaziabad-based Non-Governmental Organisation, and the court has directed the authorities concerned to respond by August 17, 2013.

The major reason being the incumbent allegedly does not fulfil the eligibility criteria for the post as desired under Section 5 of the FSS Act. That is because the incumbent is said to be lacking a food science background and claimed to be holding more than one position at the same time.

That’s not all. According to grapevine, one of the posts that the incumbent has been holding came to the person after the person ensured the unceremonious exit of predecessor.

For one, the incumbent, except his stint as the health secretary, held an assortment of positions with organisations as varied as the National AIDS Control Organisation and Central Provident Fund Office.

While there has been no evidence substantiating the charge regarding unceremonious exit of the predecessor, it has been a known fact that the latter has had been maintaining stoic silence about his sudden exit.

Further that been other serious charges against the said official. It has been alleged that import of such foods was allowed for which there were no Indian standards, the Central Food Laboratory (CFL) at Ghaziabad was closed down without following the appropriate procedure, thus allowing private labs to thrive.

With regard to the two above-mentioned charges, it can be safely said that food imports are not completely under the purview of the Authority and there are other ways and means for the same. Also the lab that was closed was to be upgraded as National Science Risk Assessment Centre (NASRAC) under the 12th Plan. So there is a strong possibility that the latter task is completed within the next couple of years and the Authority comes up with an alternative for CFL.

Not only that, the licensing and registration under the Food Safety & Standards Regulations, 2011, fiasco is also being blamed on this person. However, in this case, it is a known fact that he has been partly responsible for the glitches.

Thus the said official may not be completely clean but is not as bad as he is being painted to be. All one can do is to keep a watch on the response that the Authority offers in the days to come.
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