The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has upheld a Chamber Judge Court order by staying the High Court ban on the production, supply, collection, and marketing of milk of five pasteurised milk production companies having the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) licence.
This means the five companies, including Pran Dairy, are now clear to produce and market milk.
The four other companies are Aftab Milk and Milk Products, Baro Awlia Dairy Milk and Foods, Ichamoti Dairy and Food Products, and Purbo Bangla Dairy Food Industries.
A five-member appeal bench led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain gave the order on Sunday.
Supreme Court Bar Association President AM Amin Uddin stood for the companies while Deputy Attorney General Biswajit Debnath represented the state.
Biswajit told reporters the Appellate Division had stayed the High Court ban on production and marketing of milk of the five companies.
The appeal hearing of nine other firms in this regard is still pending, he said.
The High Court on July 28 last year imposed a five-week ban on production, marketing, and supply of milk of 14 pasteurised milk firms. They all have the BSTI licence.
The companies are Aftab Milk and Milk Products, Akij Food and Beverage, American Dairy, Milk Vita, Baro Awlia Dairy Milk and Foods, Brac Dairy and Food Project, Danish Dairy Firm, Ichamoti Dairy and Food Products, Igloo Dairy, Pran Dairy, Uttarbanga Dairy, Shilaidaha Dairy, Purbo Bangla Dairy Food Industries, and Tania Dairy and Food Products.
On July 30 and 31, the Chamber Court of the Appellate Division stayed the High Court ban. Also, it sent the appeal to the chief justice-led Appellate Division for a hearing.
Earlier, lawyer Md Tanvir Ahmed filed a writ petition and included media reports on milk adulteration. In response, the High Court on May 21 last year ordered the BSTI to form a committee comprising of experts and researchers, and submit a report on pasteurised milk collected from the market and tested by the panel.
The BSTI lawyer submitted the report to the court on June 25, and said nothing harmful or alarming was found in the pasteurised milk of the 14 companies.
However, on the same day, Professor ABM Faroque, former director of the Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Dhaka, unveiled a research report at a press briefing.
The report said seven of the pasteurised milk samples contained levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin, and six had azithromycin in them. Moreover, they all contained formalin while three samples had detergent in them.
Later, during a hearing on July 14, the BSTI admitted that it was incapable of testing the presence of antibiotic in samples. The High Court then asked it to have the samples tested in the labs of four organisations and submit the report within a week.
The four organisations are icddr,b, Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, and the national food safety lab of the Public Health Institute.
On July 23, three organisations, except the national food safety lab, submitted their reports to the court. The reports said the milk samples contained elements that were harmful for human health, including detergent and lead.
The High Court then imposed the five-week ban on milk of the 14 companies.