Order of the Gauhati High Court regarding the use of formaldehyd for keeping fish in marketable condition for long duration, Assam, 19/04/2024

  • 19/04/2024

Order of the Gauhati High Court in the matter of Hasibur Rahman Vs State of Assam & Others dated 19/04/2024.

The state of Assam vide Notification, January 20, 2024 has published a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for restricting import/stock/sale of fish imported from other than self sufficient states by road/river route using formaldehyde keeping the fish in marketable condition for long duration.

The court was informed that the SOP was implemented from January 20, 2024. Counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that there are various shortcomings in the SOP and has also pointed out that there is a variation in respect of the inspections carried out by the State Public Health Laboratory; College of Fisheries; Gauhati University; Nagaon College; Dibrugarh University and the Fishery Departmental Officers at District Level in the year 2023.

The petitioner has submitted that though other agencies have found chemical formaldehyde in the fishes imported from the other states, the Fishery Department in its survey has found all the samples to be negative. The petitioner said that it is necessary to get a report from an independent agency other than the state agency.

The High Court directed Assam to furnish an affidavit in respect of Kamrup (Metro) district detailing the action taken by the fishery department pursuant to the SOP. The said affidavit should be filed within a period of three weeks also indicating the results of the tests conducted by the nodal agencies designated under the SOP, January 20, 2024 by furnishing relevant facts and figures. The affidavit has to be sworn by the Commissioner and Secretary of the Fishery Department, Assam. The matter will be listed next May 13, 2024. The order was passed by the bench of Chief Justice Vijay Bishnoi and Justice Suman Shyam of the Gauhati High Court.