Gutka ban: Delhi HC seeks AAP govt's reply on PIL over implementation of tobacco rule
Strict implementation of the ban on 'gutka' and other chewable tobacco products in the national capital came under scanner of the Delhi High Court, which on Monday sought the response of the AAP government.
New Delhi: A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal also issued notice to the Delhi government and agencies concerned and asked them to inform it why the ban has not been imposed despite a circular in this regard.
"File your (the Delhi government and the agencies) counter affidavits with regard to the averments made in the writ petition and also produce all the records related to the issue," the bench said and fixed the matter for further hearing on 2 May.
During the brief hearing, the bench was also informed that the issue is subject matter before a single judge, who by way of an interim order, had restrained the Delhi government from taking any coercive action against the sellers and manufacturers of tobacco.
On this, the petitioner's counsel said the issue before the single judge pertains to tobacco and not chewable tobacco, so the court should hear it. The bench then directed the city government to produce before it all the relevant information and also file their affidavits in this regard.
The direction came on a public interest litigation (PIL) by an NGO, Fariyaad Foundation, which said that there was a Delhi government notification of 2015-2016 banning sale, supply and manufacture of 'gutka' and other chewable tobacco products, but it was not being strictly implemented.
It alleged that chewable tobacco products were still being sold by the manufacturers, but in two separate pouches — one containing pan masala and the other tobacco — to circumvent the notification. The NGO has also claimed that the authorities' alleged inaction showed their "callousness" and sought directions to the Delhi government and its food safety department to "strictly implement" the ban.
It has said that 'gutka' has carcinogenic compounds and was a major cause of cancer in the oral cavity. It has also said that pan masala was also harmful to health. Chewable tobacco like 'khaini', 'gutka' and 'zarda' were some of the major causes of deaths and diseases in India and account for nearly 0.9 million deaths every year, the plea has said.
It has sought formulation of a permanent policy banning the sale, supply and production of chewable tobacco products like 'gutka'.
The submission was made in response to a petition seeking that PM-CARES Fund be declared as ‘The State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution.
Justice Rekha Palli further said that if warranted, the Union Sports Ministry may look into the affairs of the TTFI as well.
Justice Subramonium Prasad made the remarks while dealing with a bail application in the case concerning the murder of Delhi Police head constable Ratan Lal