SC issues interim order to stop import of Indian vegetables without testing for pesticides


The Supreme Court (SC) has issued an interim order instructing the government to not implement the decision to stop testing Indian fruits and vegetables for pesticides.
A bench of Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai issued the interim order hearing three writ petitions filed against the government’s decision to not test Indian vegetables and fruits for pesticides.
The SC has also called all sides of those three petitions for hearing on Monday and will decide whether to give continuity to the interim order or not after hearing arguments of all the sides.
The government had made testing of Indian fruits and vegetables for pesticides mandatory from the third week of June publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette.
India had taken exception to testing of Indian fruits and vegetables for pesticides at the border. Writing a letter to top government officials, the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu had expressed concern at the checking.
The testing has been stopped for now citing lack of adequate preparations after that.
Advocates Swagat Nepal and Narayan Prasad Duwadi on behalf of Independent National Campaign had filed the writ petition on Tuesday arguing that the government cannot take a decision in a way that people are forced to consume vegetables and fruits with pesticides merely because the state cannot test them for now.
Bishnu Timalsina of the Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights also filed a petition earlier on Wednesday demanding that Indian vegetables be imported only after testing for pesticides.
Advocates Nepal and Duwadi demanded that vegetables be brought from India only after test for pesticides and domestic vegetables also be sold in the market only after tests. They argued that the government’s decision compromises the rights of consumers, right to health, safe motherhood and other rights enshrined in the Constitution.
Their petition pointed that consumption of food with pesticides by pregnant women harm the fetus and violates the rights to health and safe motherhood.
The petition claimed that the Cabinet cannot take decision in that manner. “The Constitution says the fundamental rights mentioned in it will be implemented gradually formulating laws. The notice was published in the Nepal Gazette as the law cannot be formulated immediately,” advocate Nepal said. “The Cabinet cannot annul the notice published in the Nepal Gazette to implement the fundamental rights even by publishing another notice in the Nepal Gazette.”
The government has been widely criticized for stepping back on the issue related to public health under Indian pressure.
Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Yadav has conceded that he erred in making test of Indian fruits and vegetables for pesticides without building capacity, and apologized for that.
Organizing a press conference at the ministry on Monday, he claimed that he made the mistake as the secretaries did not brief him thoroughly while advising him. He apologized for the mistake and stated that the immature decision was taken due to advice by four secretaries.

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