SC to hear petition against ban on gutka

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 7 2012, 10:13am hrs
The Supreme Court has transferred to itself a petition filed by a leading chewing tobacco manufacturer against the ban on sale of gutka and paan masala.

Gutka manufacturers have moved various high courts questioning the constitutional validity of the notifications issued by various state government. The manufacturers are insisting that gutka cannot be treated and regulated as food as it has no nutritional value and highlight the discriminatory nature of the ban that has brought their business to a complete halt.

A bench headed by Justice RM Lodha transferred to itself a petition filed by Dharampal Satyapal before the Delhi High Court against the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations 2011, which was notified in August last year, that imposed restrictions on use of nicotine and tobacco in food products.

The petition was transferred on the ministry of health and family welfares plea stating that similar petitions are pending before the apex court. After repeal of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, provisions of Rule 44J have been retained as Regulation 2.2.4 under the 2011 Regulations.

Regulation 2.3.4 prohibits sale of products that contain any substance injurious to health and prohibits tobacco and nicotine as ingredients in any food products. Even Regulation 3.1.7 restricts use of anticaking agents like carbonates of calcium and magnesium in foods except where specifically allowed like in table salt, onion powder, fruit powder and soup powder, but not more than 2%.

Dharampal Satyapal has alleged that the Regulation is contrary to the Cigerettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003.

Even tobacco majors Dhariwal Industries, Ghodawat Pan Masala Products, Rajnandini Foods, SDD Agencies and Hira Enterprises have moved the Bombay HC seeking setting aside of the July 19 notification and the two regulations under the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, based on which the state issued the ban.