Kochi Corporation’s move challenged

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The Kochi Corporation could find itself on shaky ground should the Hotels and Restaurants Association decide to challenge the raids it has been conducting on several food outlets in the city.

Legally speaking it is not authorised to prosecute hotels and restaurants under the new Food Safety and Standards Act-2006, says the food safety commissionerate .

“Local bodies have no authority to prosecute hotels under the Act,” says Food Safety Commissioner, Biju Prabhakas, who is, however unsure whether panchayats, which are the licensing authorities for such establishments, can act against them under the Panchayathi Raj Act.

But an officer with the Food Safety Commissionerate contends the provisions related to food safety in the Panchayati Raj Act have lost relevance with the enforcement of the Food Safety and Standards Act on August 5, 2011.

“Eight laws relating to food safety including the essential commodities Act stand repealed. This applies to relevant provisions in the areas of food safety and hygience in laws like the Panchayati Raj Act too. Local bodies are no longer the licensing authorities in the case of hotels and so cannot take action like cancelling them,” he says.

“The corporation issued two licences in the past for establishments like hotels, which included one for food. Under the new Act it cannot seize food,” says former additional advocate general, Ranjith Thamban.

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