The Madhya Pradesh cabinet on Tuesday approved an ordinance that has a provision for life sentence for those found guilty of food and drug adulteration in the state, an official said.
A separate section has been introduced in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to provide for five years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh or both for those selling food items beyond their expiry date.
The Penal Laws (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, was cleared at a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who described adulteration of food items and medicines as a "dreadful crime", said the Public Relations Department official.
Earlier, a bill to this effect was cleared by the cabinet but it could not be introduced in the assembly as its three-day winter session, scheduled to start from December 28, was postponed due to the COVID-19 situation.
In this backdrop, the BJP government took the ordinance route to notify the law aimed at checking adulteration of food and drugs in the state.
The law on food adulteration was among 12 ordinances, one of them on religious freedom, which were approved by the cabinet, the official said.
They have been sent to the governor for assent.
After the approval of the ordinances, Chouhan, in a statement, said, Adulteration is a dreadful crime. There have been reports of adulteration in food and medicines.
"There were reports of adulteration even in the plasma used to treat coronavirus patients and in vaccine. Could there be a bigger crime than this?
Chouhan said the practice of adulteration will not be allowed in Madhya Pradesh at any cost.
"For this, an ordinance was approved in the cabinet meeting. Sections 272, 273, 274, 275 and 276 of the Indian Penal Code (related to public health & safety) have been amended to replace 6 months imprisonment and fine up to Rs 1,000 with life imprisonment.
"Adulterators will now face life imprisonment, the chief minister said.
The person directly engaged in adulteration and the owner of premises where such activities are taking place will be punished and not the trader selling contaminated items, the statement said.
A new section 273 (a) has been added. Under this, a provision of five years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh or both on sale of food items after their expiry date has been made.
"This law will become a great medium to stop adulteration, Chouhan said.