CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Union government on a petition from a farmer challenging the latest food safety rules which makes certification mandatory to sell organic produce.
The Erode-based farmer, Selvam Ramaswamy, sought from the court to declare the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulation 2017 as unconstitutional and ultra vires of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.
According to the petitioner, under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), certification of the organic farming process, which commences from the seeding stage, is mandatory only for those who export their produce and in all other cases it is only voluntary under the Act.
The Central government had, on January 2, notified the regulation which states that even individual farmers who sell their produce in the domestic market must also obtain the certification which, the petitioner said, was a tedious process and financially unviable for small farmers.
Claiming that a regulation introduced under an Act cannot be ultra vires of the Act itself, the petitioner wanted the court to declare it unconstitutional.
Admitting the plea, a division bench of Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed the Centre to file its reply in three weeks.