Though there is a provision in the FSS Act, 2006 for setting up of a Food Safety Appellate Tribunal at the Centre and in all the Indian States; very few have been set up as yet. Most aggrieved parties, facing cases against violation of food safety under the FSS Act, have to therefore go to the High Court if they wish to appeal against any grievances. Seeing the rise in cases of violation of food safety in the state Gujarat has recently set up a Food Safety Appellate Tribunal.
A Food Safety Appellate Tribunal can be constituted according to Section 70 of the FSS Act, 2006. The Central or the State governments have to issue a notification to establish a Food Safety Appellate Tribunal. The Presiding Officer of the Tribunal is also to be notified by the Government. Once set up, the appeals can be filed by the aggrieved party against the payment of penalty or any other adverse order that may have been passed under the Food Act against the appellant. The aggrieved party can approach the Appellant Tribunal in exercise of their right of statutory appeal.
Food Business Operators who have been charged under the Food Act for any non-compliance of the Food Act in Gujarat will now be able to appeal to the Appellant Tribunal which has recently become functional in Gujarat. The FSSAI have been in the process of constituting Appellate Tribunals in a number of states. While the power to set up the Appellant Tribunal rests with the State Governments, the FSSAI can serve to guide them in the process. Some of the other states that have a Food Safety Appellant Tribunal are Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh, as also the union territories of Andaman & Nicobar and Chandigarh.
The Commissioner of the Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) has confirmed that the Food Safety Appellant Tribunal has become operational in Gujarat. This step has been taken seeing as to the number of cases of prosecutions that have been recently launched in connection with food safety including misbranding and non-compliance. This eases to some extent the work of the High Court which would have to otherwise hear the appeal. In Gujarat a retired Sessions Judge will be the Presiding Officer of the Tribunal which is based at Jivraj Mehta Bhavan in Gandhinagar.
The FSS Act 2006 had mandated the setting up of the Appellate Tribunals so that food safety cases could reach conclusion at a faster speed. In High Courts the cases, trials tend to get delayed there is hardly any conviction so this leads to continued food adulteration, misbranding and other non-compliance by Food Business Operators.