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May 20, 2024

Patanjali Soan Papdi Fails Quality Test: Key Officials Sentenced to Six Months Imprisonment

In a significant legal development, a Uttarakhand court has sentenced a Patanjali official and two others to six months in prison after samples of Patanjali’s Navratna Elaichi Soan Papdi, a traditional Indian sweet, failed a quality test. This case highlights the ongoing challenges in maintaining food safety standards and the legal ramifications of failing to meet them.

The incident began in September 2019 when the District Food Safety Officer of Pithoragarh collected samples of the sweet from a shop in Berinag Market due to growing concerns about its quality. The samples were subsequently sent to a testing lab in Rudrapur, where they were found to be substandard. This led to the filing of cases against three individuals: Abhishek Kumar, Assistant General Manager of Patanjali Food and Herbal Park, Laksar; Ajay Joshi, Assistant Manager of Kanha Ji Distributor Pvt Ltd, Ramnagar; and Leeladhar Pathak, a local shopkeeper.

On Friday, Chief Judicial Magistrate Sanjay Singh delivered the verdict, sentencing the three men to six months imprisonment under Section 59 of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. In addition to the prison terms, financial penalties were imposed: Patanjali Ayurveda Limited and Ajay Joshi were each fined Rs 10,000, while Abhishek Kumar was ordered to pay Rs 25,000, and Pathak Rs 5,000.

The court also made it clear that failure to serve their sentences would result in additional imprisonment ranging from seven days to six months for the accused. This stern warning underscores the judiciary’s commitment to enforcing food safety regulations and ensuring accountability.

In a related development, the Supreme Court of India has recently questioned Patanjali Ayurved about the sale of 14 products whose manufacturing licences were suspended by the Uttarakhand State Licensing Authority. Senior advocate Balbir Singh, representing Patanjali, informed the Supreme Court that the company had ceased selling these products.

The Supreme Court has demanded affidavits from Patanjali Ayurved, as well as from its key figures, Balkrishna and Ramdev, detailing the steps taken to recall advertisements for the suspended products. The court granted three weeks for these affidavits to be filed, emphasizing the need for prompt action.

The Supreme Court’s bench has reserved orders on the contempt notice issued to Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, Balkrishna, and Ramdev. It was noted that until specific orders are issued, Ramdev and Balkrishna would not be required to appear in court.

This series of events brings to light the critical importance of stringent quality control measures in the food industry. Patanjali, a major player in the Indian market known for its extensive range of herbal and food products, now faces increased scrutiny over its adherence to food safety standards. The court’s ruling serves as a stark reminder to all food manufacturers about the legal and financial consequences of failing to meet established quality benchmarks.

For consumers, this case underscores the importance of vigilance and awareness regarding the quality of food products. It also reflects the crucial role of regulatory bodies in ensuring that food items sold in the market are safe for consumption.

As this case continues to unfold, it will be watched closely by both industry insiders and the general public. The outcomes could potentially influence future regulatory practices and enforcement strategies, setting a precedent for how food safety violations are addressed in India.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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