Kathmandu, July 10
The Supreme Court today issued a temporary stay order against the government’s July 3 decision not to test imported fruits and vegetables for pesticides and other chemicals.
This order was issued by a single bench of Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai in response to three writ petitions filed separately by advocates Narayan Prasad Duwadi, Bhadra Prasad Nepal, Kanchan Krishna Neupane and Bishnu Timilsina against the government’s decision to halt lab-testing at border points.
The apex court also ordered the government to furnish reply within 15 days as to why it halted the lab-test at border points. The court observed that the issue raised by the petitioners were related to the health of all the people and were thus an issue of public interest.
The bench observed that the court needed to examine the government’s decision to halt lab-testing of vegetables and fruits as the issue raised by the petitioners was linked with the right enshrined by the constitution and laws that basically ensured people’s right to quality food and vegetables.
It is necessary to reach a conclusion on these issues after hearing the arguments of both sides. Both sides are ordered to come for a hearing on July 16 with the details of decisions, data on lab-testing if any, and any document that confirms lab-testing of fruits and vegetables before they were imported into Nepal. The government is hereby ordered not to implement its July 3 decision till the court reaches a conclusion on the issue after hearing arguments from both sides,” the SC said in its order.
Petitioners had sought issuance of an order directing the government to lab-test imported fruits and vegetables, and those produced locally, for pesticides and other chemicals before they were sent to the market.
Writ petitions were filed after the government backtracked from its decision to lab-test imported fruits and vegetables for permitted levels of pesticides, at border points.
The petitioners have claimed that the government decision had put the fundamental rights of Nepali citizens, including consumer rights and right to health, at risk. They stated in their petition that the government’s decision to not check for pesticides would affect maternal and child health, besides arguing that it was the government’s responsibility to use appropriate technology to test for harmful pesticides or chemicals in imported fruits and vegetables.
Following pressure from traders, the Cabinet meeting on July 3, decided to halt lab-testing of imported vegetables and fruits for pesticides and chemicals citing lack of technical preparations.
A version of this article appears in print on July 11, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.