Apex court gives ‘go’ sign to pesticide residue testing on imported agricultural goods

The apex court has ordered the concerned government authority to continue pesticide residue testing on agricultural products imported from India. The government had revoked its earlier decision to test the pesticide residues on vegetable and fruits brought in the country from India on 3 July – the decision was met with heavy criticism since then.

Acting on the three writ petitions filed on the same issue in the court on 9 July, a single bench of Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, on Wednesday issued a stay order against the government’s recent ministry level decision to halt the testing on such imported products at border points.

The three writ petitions seeking issuance of an order directing the government authorities to conduct the lab-test on imported agricultural goods for pesticide residue were filed in the Supreme Court on 9 July by three groups of people.

Advocates Swagat Nepal and Narayan Prasad Duwadi had jointly filed the writ. Likewise, advocate Kanchan Krishna Neupane and advocate Bishnu Timalsina of Consumer Protection Forum had also filed the petition the same day.

The petitioners argued that the government’s decision to backtrack the earlier decision had undermined the fundamental rights to health of a Nepali citizen enshrined in the constitution. They claimed that importing agricultural products without adequate testing for pesticide residues could cause more harm to pregnant mothers and their babies.

The government’s decision to test pesticides residues on imported agricultural goods first came out on 17 June, taking effect from 18 June. The government under pressure from the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu revoked the decision on 3 July, citing lack of sufficient labs across the country.

The court has called both parties – the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Measurement and Quality Control – for further discussion on July 15.

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