Sunday, March 7

‘Playing with lives’: MP CM backs life term for adulteration

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Madhya Pradesh cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft of an Ordinance that provides for life term in jail to those found guilty of food or drugs adulteration in the state, as was announced by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan after the cabinet meeting.

The draft was sent to Madhya Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel for promulgation of the Ordinance, along with drafts on certain other ordinances.

The cabinet also approved MP Freedom of Religion Ordinance for stringent punishment to those found guilty of forcing religious conversion by way of allurement, misrepresentation, threat, force, undue influence, coercion-marriage and any fraudulent means.

The cabinet approved the drafts on Ordinances for its promulgation as the state government couldn’t table the bills to the effect in the state assembly during its scheduled three-day winter session from Monday, which was cancelled on Sunday evening due to prevailing Covid-19 situation in the state in general and in state capital Bhopal in particular.

In a video message released to media, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “The state government received information about food and drug adulteration. There were reports about adulteration even in plasma… fake plasma. What can be a bigger crime than this? Whether it’s adulteration of food or medicines, it’s nothing but playing with the lives of people. This can’t be allowed in Madhya Pradesh at any rate.”

The Ordinance draft will amend sections 272 (Adulteration of food or drink intended for sale), 273 (Sale of noxious food or drink), 274 (Adulteration of drugs), 275 (Sale of adulterated drugs) and 276 (Sale of drug as a different drug or preparation) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) to enhance quantum of punishment from 6 months to life imprisonment in jail.

“But our focus through the ordinance is on those who manufacture these items and the factory where such items are manufactured, not the traders who sell,” said Chouhan.

“A sub-section (273-A) will be added to section 273 of IPC to ensure punishment up to 5 years in jail and Rs 1 lakh fine to those who sell food items after its expiry date. I think this law will play a major role in checking adulteration in our campaign against the same in the state,” he added.

On MP Freedom of Religion Ordinance, the CM said, “We have made a provision for stringent punishment for religious conversion of women, daughters, especially minor daughters and scheduled castes and tribes, in violation of the law. The punishment is a minimum of two years to a maximum of 10 years in jail and also a fine of Rs 50000.”

He said marrying a girl after conversion done by way of allurement, threat, coercion, impersonation or with bad intention will be unlawful. “Such a crime is going on a large scale in Madhya Pradesh. This can’t be tolerated”, he said.

He said the government had also made a provision that mass religious conversion of two or more people will be held in violation of the law and will attract a minimum jail term of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years apart from a minimum fine of Rs one lakh.

On another Ordinance draft aimed to amend public service guarantee, he said, “As per the existing provision, the government officer/personnel who is supposed to ensure delivery of the service faces a fine on delay and the amount of the fine is given to the complainant. We are adding one more provision to it that if the service is not delivered in the stipulated period of time, the person who seeks the service will get it as deemed one, generated through the computer. And the government officer and personnel concerned will have no role in it.”

State Congress spokesperson JP Dhanopia said there was no need for MP Freedom of Religion Ordinance and Public Service Guarantee Ordinance, claiming existing laws in the state served a similar purpose.

“For an instance, in case of marriage with a minor girl whether with consent or lure or intimidation, it is considered as a rape under the IPC. Forced conversion is already a crime. The ordinance on adulteration was brought as the then Kamal Nath government had launched a massive state-wide campaign against adulteration instead of a lip service and action was taken against several adulteration mafia under the National Security Act across the state.”