The Delhi High Court has observed that use of pesticides and chemicals to ripen fruits amounts to poisoning the consumer, while noting that invoking penal provisions against the culprits would have a deterrent effect.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Sistani and A.J. Bhambani said, “Using chemicals like calcium carbide to ripen mangoes is like poisoning somebody. Why should the Indian Penal Code be not invoked against them?”
“Send such persons to jail, even if for two days and it would have a deterrent effect,” the Bench said while hearing a petition initiated by the court to monitor use of pesticides on fruits and vegetables.
The High Court asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India [FSSAI] if calcium carbide was still being used to ripen fruits, like mangoes and sought the presence of its Chief Executive Officer to assist it on the next date of hearing.
It also asked the Ministry of Agriculture if any kit was available for consumers to test for calcium carbide at home. The Ministry replied that no such kit was available as the presence of calcium carbide can only be tested in laboratories with the help of proper equipment and additional chemicals.
The Delhi government told the High Court that it has been picking up samples from the various markets in the Capital for tests and also carrying out awareness drives. It also told the court that some of the samples were tested and no chemicals were found and the results of other sample tests were awaited.
Apart from the petition initiated by the court on its own, the High Court was also hearing two other pleas by private individuals seeking directions to the authorities to curb the use of pesticides and other chemicals on food products, especially the agricultural produce, coming into the national capital.
An earlier report by amicus curiae Rajul Jain had stated that due to excessive usage of pesticides in fruits and vegetable, “various countries have banned the import of Indian vegetables and fruits and many more were under scrutiny”.