New Delhi: Terming the issue of adulteration in milk and milk products as "very serious", the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to consider amending the Food Safety and Standards Act in the coming winter session of Parliament and make it an offence punishable with life imprisonment.
"We hope and trust that the Centre will take appropriate measures in the winter session of Parliament," a bench of justices M Y Eqbal and Shiva Kirti Singh said.
"It's high time. Adulteration in milk is going on and states should also act. Either the government amend their food safety act or make new laws," it said.
The bench, in the meantime, asked the Centre to file a status report within four weeks giving details about the actions taken so far on the issue.
The court, which had favoured life term punishment to those indulging in production and marketing of adulterated milk, today expressed displeasure over the inaction and asked the central and state governments to consider either amending the laws or bringing a fresh legislation on the issue.
"The matter is very, very serious. Urgent actions are needed," the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on December 10.
During the hearing, advocate Anurag Tomar, appearing for PIL petitioner, said milk and milk products are laced with "white paint, caustic soda, detergent, shampoo, urea, starch and blotting paper".
Earlier, the court had favoured award to life term to persons indulging in production and marketing of adulterated milk.
It had said punishment of six months' jail term mentioned in the Food Safety and Standards Act is grossly inadequate and had asked states to amend the law as has been done by Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha.
The bench is hearing Public Interest Litigations seeking its direction to state governments to stop practice of milk adulteration which is rampant in various states.
The PILs have alleged that milk contaminated with synthetic materials is being sold in states particularly in northern states posing serious threat to the life and health of the consumers.