Data source
Date of text
01 Jul 1996
Seat of court
Original language


Type of text
National - higher court
Reference number
WP 92 of 1996
Court name
Supreme Court of Bangladesh
food quality control, food safety, radioactive contamination

This case dealt with radioactive milk powder. A sample of milk powder from a consignment meant for import had been tested at the Atomic Energy Commission and found to contain radiation in excess of the prescribed level. The authority in charge thereupon had issued a certificate that the milk powder should not be marketed. The Petitioner claimed that the action and inaction of Government dealing with testing of imports for radiation was an infringement of the right to life guaranteed under Articles 31 and 32 of the Bangladesh Constitution. The Petitioner emphasized the State’s duty to protect the health and longevity of the people. He prayed that the respondents be directed to send the milk powder back to the exporter. The petitioner brought this action on his own behalf and on behalf of the people of the country who were potential consumers of the contaminated milk powder.
The court analyzed the meaning of the right to life under Articles 31 and 32 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, whether such right had been threatened as alleged, whether the alleged contaminated imported milk powder could endanger the life of the petitioner and other people living in the country, violating the fundamental right of right to life and whether the petitioner was entitled to the relief sought for. It concluded that the right to life under the Constitution included the protection of the health and normal longevity of an ordinary human being. Normal expectancy of longevity could be threatened by the consumption of contaminated food.
A consideration of the material on record revealed anomalies in the collection of samples of the imported milk powder. In particular, nothing had been produced before the court to indicate that either the Collector of Customs or the Atomic Energy Commission could collect samples repeatedly and make several tests.
The court was of the view that to avoid confusion, anomaly and litigation and to ensure enforcement of the fundamental right of right to life, some directions should be given to the respondents for the better implementation of the Import Policy Order for the control of imported food items injurious to public health in respect of the collection and testing of samples for determination of radioactivity level, so that in future injurious food items could not enter into the country to adversely affect the health of the people, jeopardizing their life, longevity and normal life expectancy. However, the Court did not decide this application on its merits as the relief sought by the Petitioner was sub judice before a lower court.