Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of S. Manikumar, CJ and Shaji P. Chaly, J., issued directions to State to ensure that unauthorized drinking water units were not functioning in the State and that the packaged drinking water units were functioning with licenses.

Factual Matrix

Petitioner claimed to be a registered society filed the petition challenging the action of the unauthorized packaged drinking water units and ice units  and also to prevent companies from unauthorized distribution of polluted water and ice bars in the State of Kerala.

Petitioner contended that it was highly necessary that the unauthorized water distribution should strictly be made under the control of the Government, and the State Health authorities were responsible for curtailing such manufacturers. Adding to this, there are 106 packaged drinking water plants in Kerala and the Government is again taking steps to give licence to 20 more plants and that the majority of units are running without any valid licence from the authorities concerned; units distribute low-quality ice bars and the same are used by the wayside shopkeepers for making ‘kulukki sarbath’, which may cause serious diseases to human beings in future.

Without any Government standard mark, ice bars and water were being distributed in bottles all over Kerala and those units were gradually developing cottage industry, resulting to people getting infected by serious diseases causing threat to the health of nearby inhabitants and further creating various ecological problems. But authorities concerned were not taking any action against the exploitation of companies.

In view of the above concerns, the present petition was filed.

Special Government Pleader, Surin George Ipe filed a statement setting out the details and showing the banning of packaged drinking water units in various districts across the State of Kerala.

The statement stated that no packaged drinking water units and ice manufacturing units were functioning in the State without a valid FSSAI Licence and BIS certification and that stringent actions were initiated against the offenders.

Further, it was added that in order to ensure quality, special squads were constituted in all districts across the State, in addition to the routine inspection of Food Safety Officers. Inspections ensured that the operators were having an FSSAI licence and that BIS certification and hygienic conditions were followed for the manufacturing and distribution of packaged drinking water as provided in the 4th schedule of Food Safety Rules, 2011.

It was also stated ‘No Objection Certificate’ for drinking water bottle plants was granted in the State by the Ground Water Authority.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench disposed of the petition while directing respondents to ensure that unauthorized drinking water units were not functioning in the State and that the packaged drinking water units were functioning with licenses and other permits and undertaking all precautions in accordance with law to meet up with the standards prescribed under law.

  • State Government to ensure that low-quality ice was not distributed by any of the manufacturing units so as to affect public health.
  • While granting licence to any new packaged drinking water units, necessary directions shall be issued to maintain the standards prescribed under respective statutes.
  • The above-stated units should start functioning only after securing permits/clearances/consents from respective statutory authorities.

In view of the above petition was disposed of. [Human Rights Commission v. Kerala State Ground Water Department, WP (C) No. 12508 of 2014 (S), decided on 10-03-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Advocate Kum. D. Mini Rajan

For the Respondents:

R1-5 by Sri. Surin George Ipe, Sr. Government Pleader R6 by Adv. Sri Manoj Ramaswamy, SC

R10 by Adv. Sri. T.G. Rajendran

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