Court refuses to stay Delhi notification on gutka ban

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 15:50 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Friday refused to stay the notification of the city government enforcing a complete blanket ban on gutka, a form of chewing tobacco, and related products.

The court, however, issued notice to the central, Delhi government, and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and asked them to file their reply by Dec 11 on a plea of a tobacco manufacturer saying that Food Safety and Standard Act 2006, has no power to impose a permanent prohibition on any "food product".

"Except issuing notices, we are not inclined to pass any order as the notification was issued by Delhi government on the basis of the centre's regulations, which is not under challenge," it said.

The division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, hearing the case, declined to grant a stay on the Sep 11 notification imposing a blanket ban on sale, manufacture, distribution, transportation, display and storage of these gutka (chewing tobacco) products under the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act.

The ban covers pan masalas containing tobacco and other packaged chewing tobacco products.

The plea filed by a premium brand manufacturer of tobacco, Trimurti Fragrances Pvt. Ltd. contended that the Delhi government had issued the notification in terms of central government's August 2011 Regulations under the Food Safety and Standards Act.

"As per the 2.3.4 of the Regulations products not to contain any substance which may be injurious to health; Tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food product," the plea said.

It contended that the Delhi government's notification was arbitrary.

"The notification is arbitrary and bad in law in as much the same is ultra vires the FSS Act itself which does not confer any power to impose permanent prohibition on any food product."

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