The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the central government to ensure the complete ban of carbonated beverages and junk food from school and college canteens. “We do not need lip service, but we want the government to take effective steps to ensure that the sale and supply of junk food is completely banned near the educational institutions,” a division bench of Justices AK Sikri and Siddharth Mridul said, expressing displeasure over the government affidavit admitting the health hazards of junk food.
“We are not satisfied with the affidavit you have filed,” the bench said. It was hearing a plea for a ban on the sale of junk food and carbonated drinks near educational institutions.
In its affidavit filed July 18, the central government had invited proposals from experienced agencies, organisations and institutions for framing guidelines for providing safe food in educational institutions.
Earlier, in an affidavit before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, the health ministry said it had written to all states and union territories to consider issuing instructions for withdrawing carbonated beverages and junk food from school and college canteens.
Justice Sikri said: “You have written to various states governments about the harmful effects caused by consuming junk food. But this does not solve the problem as it wont prevent selling of junk food near institutional areas.”
The court also sought an action taken report from the government by Nov 2. It also asked the central government about the steps taken to create awareness among the young generation about the “harmful effects of increased consumption of junk food”.
“The centre in actively engaged in dealing with the health risks that the consumption of junk food may pose to the general health of the population and more particularly the children of the country,” said the central government’s affidavit filed in July.
The court is hearing a petition filed by an NGO seeking a ban on the sale of junk food and carbonated drinks within a 1,500 feet radius of schools.
Petitioners Rahul Verma and Rakesh Prabhakar of NGO Uday Foundation told the court: “It is…time we change the way kids eat in schools. Such a ban will set new standards for healthy food. On one hand, children are taught in classroom about good nutrition…, on the other, we continue to make junk food available to them.”