Holding that packaged drinking water comes within the purview of Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, the Karnataka High Court on Friday said that certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is mandatory for packaged drinking water.

The court also directed the State government to take action to prohibit and prevent the manufacture and sale of packaged drinking water without BIS certification.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice Aravind Kumar passed the order while disposing of a public interest litigation (PIL) petition by Lochamesh B. Hugar of Hubli complaining inaction by the authorities against manufacturers of packaged drinking water operating without BIS certification, and a batch of petitions filed by the manufacturers claiming that certification from BIS was not necessary.

The Bench also directed the authorities to take action against the manufacturers if they found them operating without certification from BIS.

However, noticing that there are 564 packaged drinking water manufacturing units without BIS certification as against 224 with BIS certification across the State, the court has given an opportunity for those operating without BIS certification to apply for certification.

The Bench said that all manufacturers will have to submit applications for BIS certification in the prescribed format within 15 days. It directed the authorities concerned, including the BIS, to process the application within three months and notify the deficiencies, if any, in these units. The Bench said that entire exercise will have to be completed within four months.

Meanwhile, the court has given liberty to the authorities to initiate action against those manufacturers who fail to adhere to the directions and comply with conditions for manufacturing packaged drinking water.

Notice to government

The High Court on Friday ordered issue of notice to the State government in a public interest litigation petition seeking a direction to re-start the Justice B. Padmaraj Commission of Inquiry, which was set up to probe into instances of denotification of acquired land from January 1, 1995.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna also sought the view of the government on the possibility of the court itself appointing a special investigation team either under Justice Padmaraj (a retired judge of the court) or headed by any other person.

The Bench issued the direction while hearing of the petition filed by city-based advocate N.P. Amruthesh. He has contended that the then government headed by the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa constituted the commission on November 22, 2010 after a complaint was lodged alleging illegal denotification of acquired land against Mr. Yeddyurappa.

Subsequently, the High Court had stayed the operation of the commission following a petition alleging that the commission was set up to thwart a probe by the Lokayukta into the allegation.

The commission was terminated by way of not extending its term, the petitioner said while contending that the term of the commission was not extended to “safeguard the skin of many political bigwigs”.