IN a shocking incident four Joint Commissioners (JC) attached with Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Maharashtra are running parallel court in their offices. The officers have systemically developed a court room and are sitting and passing orders like magistrates.
There are seven Joint Commissioners (Food) in Maharashtra state. They are at Mumbai (BKC), Thane (Konkan division), Nasik, Pune, Aurangabad, Amravati and Nagpur. As per information available with ABI (Akela Bureau of Investigation) Thane, Pune, Nasik and Nagpur’s Joint commissioners have setup court room in their offices and remaining are under process of doing the same. They have set up look-a-like courtroom. They have constructed a dais 3 to 4 feet above the floor level. The Joint Commissioners sit on the higher level and businessmen stand below like an accused. As City Court puts up photos of Mahatma Gandhi, Baba Saheb Ambedkar and other respected leaders behind magistrate chair the FDA’s joint Commissioners have also done the same
The All Food and Drug Licence Holder Foundation (AFDLHF), claims that all such courts are illegal. The FDA authorities have not obtained any permission from the Mantralaya. Concerned ministry has not issued any fund to construct such courts. “The Joint Commissioners collected money from the tainted businessmen,” alleged Abhay Pandey, President AFDLHF.
ABI (abinet.org) spoke to Advocate Shaila Pandey, Advocate BP Pandey as well as Advocate Amit Nalwade from Bombay High Court. All of them said, “Although Joint Commissioners have been given powers of magistrate but they cannot convert their cabins to look like court rooms.”
Why JC’s set up court?
On August 5, 2011 Maharashtra government notified the ‘adjudicating officers’ post. Taking advantage of that notification (GR) Joint Commissioners started misusing the law and power.
The GR/order (copy available with ABI) clearly mentioned that the adjudicating officer shall have the powers of a civil court and – (A) all proceedings before him shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) and (B) shall be deemed to be a court for the purposes of sections 345 and 346 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (2 of 1974).
“The Joint Commissioners have adjudicating (fining) power only. They cannot pose as a magistrate,” stated an FDA officer.