The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 of India is a crucial legislation that ensures the provision of safe and wholesome food to the citizens of India. Section 2(ia) of this Act defines an “importer” as any person who imports any article of food into India. This definition has significant implications for Non Resident Indians (NRIs), who may import food items from their country of residence into India.
The definition provided in Section 2(ia) is broad and encompasses all individuals or entities involved in importing food articles. It includes not only those directly involved in importing but also those who enable or facilitate such importation, such as agents, brokers, distributors, and retailers.
In light of this definition, NRIs must be cautious while exporting foods from their country of origin to India as they may fall within the scope of “importers” under the Act. Any NRI that falls within this category should ensure they comply with all regulations concerning imported foods stipulated by relevant authorities responsible for regulating articles at ports, airports.
Additionally, various case laws have emerged which further clarify what constitutes importation under Section 2(ia). In Mohit Aggarwal v Directorate General Of Foreign Trade , it was held that even if goods are being sent as personal baggage or gifts to friends/relatives residing in India without commercial intent would still relate under section 2 (ia). Thereafter even more recently Tata Starbucks Private Ltd v The Food Safety And Standards Authority Of India  clarified about how even liability can be imposed on parent companies operating outside Indian territory if it’s done via subsidiary company domiciled inside Indian territory having acquired FSSAI norms for its products sold therein.
Thus NRIs wanting to bring along some delicacies when visiting family back home need tread carefully because many times these foods will come within the ambit regulated by this act & non-compliance could lead them face fine imprisonment, or even both.
In conclusion, the definition of “importer” provided in Section 2(ia) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 must be taken seriously by NRIs wishing to import food articles into India. The implications are severe for non-compliance with regulations stipulated under this provision because fines, imprisonment or both could be implicated especially if harm was caused due to negligence. Therefore, it is essential that all applicable rules are strictly complied with by any person falling within the scope delineated by this legislation so as to avoid any unintended consequences stemming from regulatory actions.