Father Angel School students sought to be made party to the court proceeding on the Uday Foundation’s plea for ban on sale of junk food and aerated drinks in and around schools
Copy of Petition filed by Students of Father Agnel School in Delhi High Court
The Honourable Chief Justice of Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court, Delhi
May it please Your Honour,
First of all we beg your indulgence for breaking legal protocols and coming here today. We however plead with Your Honour, that we are doing so, solely moved by the fact that the matter that this Honourable Court is deciding today is not only of vital importance to us as children and citizens of tomorrow, but also to the health of the Nation and the cost to the National Exchequer when this vast population will be stricken by lifestyle diseases tomorrow. And when that would happen we would have failed, because as children we had not raised our voice today when we could and should have done. We therefore beg Your Honour’s indulgence again.
We most humbly submit:
1. That we know that obesity among our peers is increasing day by day.
2. That since obesity and what follows thereafter, like inability to do physical exercises, sports, lethargy to study are killers of children’s future, because of the uncontrolled consumption of junk food and beverages made available to the kids, something drastic needs to be done to save us, children.
3. That everyone knows that the immediate cause of obesity lies in the use of Monosodium Gluconate (MSG) in the junk foods. Hundreds of studies have been made in various parts of the world and published in scientific journals directly linking serious lifestyle disorders and nervous ailments with the use of MSG by young victims.
4. That research on this issue has been done worldwide and very clear instances of loss of IQ and other learning disabilities have been found largely among children consuming junk food.
5. That the most harmful effect that is identified among the junk food using children, is a strong addiction to such food leading the user into the pit of dependence and slow death.
6. That we understand that the food production and distribution is a legitimate economic activity and is a fundamental Constitutional right of the promoter to be allowed to do it.
7. That we genuinely would like to place before this Honourable Court our big and serious unanswered question , “ does the fundamental right of an individual or a group to engage in economic activity, also endows him with a right to harm others with his product directly or indirectly? “ “Does the State have a Constitutional obligation to defend the weaker sections of its citizens like the children, who are not grown up enough to make their own proper choices of good food, for lack of adequate information and guidance?”
8. That the protection of the Rights of Children as enshrined in the Charter of Rights declared by the United Nations and was adopted by India, especially art 24, are being constantly violated and that we take the liberty to place before this Honourable Court the Art 24 of the Charter of Rights of Children: Article 24
• State/ Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States/ Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.
• States/ Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
o To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution;
o To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents;
o To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.
o States/ Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.
9. That the students are fully aware that this a war between the rich food processing companies and the State that wants their revenue on the one side and the Right of the kids who are the future of India, to live healthy lives and the Right they have for protection from predatory practices by the food companies.
10. That the State is ignoring the fact that the harm done to the health of the children today will only end up in obesity and other lifestyle diseases which will cost to the Nation many times more than the revenue that the State is earning from the peddlers of death in the name of junk which is also called ‘Junk Food’. It is not right for our Nation to be dictated by profit and revenue generation alone which happens in some western countries who follow an unmitigated capitalist model and where the State cannot intervene with pro-active policies.
11. That under the Constitution of India, Art. 15 (3) the State can make special provision for the protection of children and that the same should also be invoked to introduce such legislation or issue orders by the Honourable High Court
The students are determined to take up cudgels for themselves since adults, the food processing industry and the State are sitting pretty and present their petition to this Honourable High Court personally today, December 21, 2011, requesting the Honourable High Court for the favour of being made a party in the matter of the case of junk food in the schools, and /or issue instructions for protection of their rights by :
1. Broadly determining what is junk food , specially of the packaged type or served as fast food in large numbers and traditionally alien to Indian food habits.
2. Create a ban list in the order of harmful effects through a study carried out by unbiased professionals where children are a party, within a given time frame of 90 days.
3. Ban such evidently harmful foods and beverages from the canteens of the Schools or from the immediate neighborhoods of Schools.
4. Stop food companies from enticing kids by giving out toys or other such attractions that increase addiction in children for the usage of junk foods and beverages.
5. Mandate the printing of bold labels stating the existence of harmful ingredients, as decided by the experts committee, specially chemicals that although approved in some western counties as food preservatives and taste enhancers are addictive in nature and have been found to be directly linked with diseases primarily in young victims.
Dec. 21, 2011
On behalf of students of Fr. Agnel School, Gautam nagar, New Delhi
Fr. Agnel School, Gautam Nagar, New Delhi 11 049.