BLAST, et al. v. Government of Bangladesh and others

25 BLD (HDC) (2005) 83
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The Petitioner, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), a public interest NGO,  alleged that the Respondents (which included salt manufacturers and the Government) had violated the Iodine Deficiency Diseases Prevention Act, 1989 (the Act). The Act required edible salt to be iodised before sale, in order to combat iodine deficiency diseases such as goitre and cretinism amongst adults and children. However, on testing certain samples of salt manufactured by some of the Respondents, the Petitioner had found the iodine content to be lower than as mandated by the Act. The Petitioner brought a case before the High Court alleging a breach of the Act by the salt manufacturers, and also brought a case against the Government for inaction in performing its monitoring duties under the Act.

The Court noted that none of the Respondents had challenged the allegations or the validity of the rule, and as a result, accepted the allegations put by the Petitioner. It thus held that the salt manufacturers were defaulters under the Act for not having produced salt with proportionate quantities of iodine. The Court also held the Government liable for not carrying out its mandated duties of regularly checking and testing salt samples. The Government was thus responsible for the consequences, such as an increase in iodine deficiency diseases, that followed from its inaction.

The Court directed the Government to perform its functions in accordance with the Act and prosecute the offenders. The Government was also to ensure that unregistered edible salt manufacturers were penalized and not allowed to market or produce salt for human consumption. Further, the Government was to collect samples of edible salt currently in the market and test them for iodine content. The results of the same were to be submitted to the Court twice a year.

“The law requires production and marketing of iodized salt as per specification of Section 2(Ka) of the Act and the law has clearly barred manufacturing and sale of edible salt without Iodine. The manufacturers of non-iodized or sub-standard iodized salt violating the provisions of the Act and the Rules need be prosecuted as per law.” [25 BLD (HCD) 2005 Para 12]

 

“Thus it appears that the respondent Nos. 1-5 are not performing their duties and obligations properly and diligently for which the general people in general and the infants in particular have been exposed to the Iodine Deficiency Diseases and the respondents are responsible for the consequences and therefore they need be directed to act in accordance with law and to be vigilant in performing their respective duties and obligations and as the respondent Nos. 6-12 appear to be defaulters and their produced edible salt do not contain proportionate quantity of iodine as required by the law and hence, they are liable to be prosecuted in accordance with law.” [25 BLD (HCD) 2005 Para 12]

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