LAHORE - The Supreme Court Saturday banned sale of ‘Ajinomoto’ across the country, declaring it hazardous for health.

A three-member bench, headed by the chief justice of Pakistan, ordered a ban on the import and export of ‘Chinese salt’ (monosodium glutamate), popularly known as Ajinomoto, for being injurious to health.

The court passed the order while hearing a suo motu case concerning the sale of MSG and used oil in the SC Lahore Registry. The CJP issued the order that the chief secretaries of all the provinces be informed of the court’s decision. He further said the prime minister should take up the issue at a cabinet meeting.

The bench expressed dismay over non-appearance of court-appointed commission Mustafa Ramday advocate and remarked he had never come to court to assist it in such an importance issue.

“Ramday preferred to stay at the chief minister’s house most of the time,” the CJP observed, directing the advocate general to ensure his appearance on the next date of hearing.

The bench also turned down a plea moved by a dry milk manufacturing company against the condition of printing “it is not milk” on the milk packets, saying there can be no compromise on edibles.

Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Justice Ijazul Ahsan were the other members of the bench.

Representing a manufacturing company, Nestle, a lawyer said although dry milk was not alterative of loose milk, it (dry milk) was being manufactured with all required nutrients, including lactogen 1, and international standard was being maintained in its manufacturing. 

The formula included all the ingredients required for children’s health, the counsel claimed. He argued cows’ milk was the source of dry milk, so there should be no restriction on printing on the packs that it was not milk. The CJP observed milk was a great blessing of Allah Almighty and if manufacturing companies cannot print “it is not milk” on their packs, the court would ban it and order confiscation of their stocks.

“No one can stop us from banning formula milk,” the CJP remarked. “Children are habitual of drinking dry milk and problem may arise for them if its sale in the market is banned,” he further asserted. However, the CJP remarked there would be no compromise on children’s health.

The court sought a detailed reply from the respondent company and adjourned further hearing until March 9.

Bottled water

The Supreme Court also ordered closure of the companies selling substandard and poor bottled water.

The three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing the suo motu notice on the sale of substandard bottled water at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry.

During the proceedings, Punjab Food Authority Director General Noorul Amin told the bench that 1,150 companies were registered in Punjab. Of them 1,053 companies were producing bottled water, but the product of 340 did not meet safety standards.

The chief justice asked if the minerals advertised on water bottles were actually present and observed they could not let their children consume hepatitis-infected water. The court adjourned hearing until March 8.

Poultry meat

University of Health Sciences Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Faisal Masood Saturday told the Supreme Court that broiler children meat was not contaminated.

Submitting his report, the VC said samples of broiler chicken’s meat was randomly taken from different parts of Lahore, but no contamination was found in these samples. He said the problem was with the chicken sellers who did not maintain hygienic standard.

Punjab Food Authority Director General Noorul Ameen Mengal said strict action had been taken for cleanliness at chicken selling shops when the court asked him about it.

The court directed the chief secretary to ensure Dr Masood was not transferred anywhere as the court direly needed his expertise in such cases. A committee comprising Salman Akram Raja and Uzair Bhandari advocates would submit a report about the test of the poultry feed. The bench would discuss the report on the next hearing, March 9.

Clinical waste

The Supreme Court ordered Federal Investigation Agency to hold an inquiry into award of a contract to a private person for collecting hospital waste and submit a preliminary report within 15 days.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing the suo motu notice into disposal of medical waste from public hospitals of Lahore as well as discharge of untreated water into the River Ravi.

Court-appointed commission, Ayesha Hamid advocate, furnished a report on the subject matter, saying military hospitals of Lahore failed to reply when she approached them about disposal measures of clinical waste. On this, the CJP sought a report from surgeon general/DG medical services of inter-services.

Responding to a court query, the Punjab chief secretary said a private company had been outsourced in 2011 to collect medical waste from the city’s public hospitals. The reply irked the top judge who remarked how a project worth millions of rupees was dished out to a person who was only a matriculate. The bench asked the environment and health secretaries to cooperate with NAB o probe the matter.

Regarding untreated polluted water’s discharge into the River Ravi, Advocate Ayesha Hamid said 540 million gallons of water was being thrown into the river on daily basis. She said the Punjab government had decided to install treatment plants on four different points of Lahore.

“Why does the government become active in resolving the issue only when the courts intervene?” the CJP questioned. The CJP remarked they had been in the government for 10 years, but no one bothered to install plants. Health and education were not on the government’ priority list, he further observed. He also observed millions of rupees were being spent on personal advertisement. The court adjourned hearing until March 9.

MEDIA CAMPAIGN: The Supreme Court expressed dismay over not submitting report about the promotional campaign of the provincial government, directing the information secretary to come up with a detailed reply.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar asked the secretary to explain the name of the authority that ordered the media campaign with the public money.

“The government would have to justify the misuse of taxpayers’ money for personal promotion of the rulers,” the CJP remarked.

“What is performance of the government which is being shown through advertisements?” the CJP questioned. He also questioned exhibition of the chief minister’s prominent photo in TV ads.

“As the general elections are near, such media campaigns are pre-poll rigging,” the CJP further remarked.

The CJP, referring to a long ad broadcasted by the electronic media showing performance of the provincial government in different sectors along with the picture of Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, said: “The chief minister should have paid for the advertisement from his own pocket as the court could not allow misuse of public money.

To a court query, Information Secretary Raja Jahangir said Rs 5.5 million were paid to 12 television channels for a one-day broadcasting of the advertisement. The court asked him to tell the name of the authority that ordered the campaign with public money. The bench sought a detailed reply and put off further hearing until March 8.