The Delhi High Court on Thursday agreed to hear a plea seeking strict implementation of the ban on ‘gutka’ and other chewable tobacco products in the national capital. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, which initially declined to entertain the plea, said that it would take up the matter on February 13.
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The bench had refused to hear the matter after the lawyer for Delhi government said the issue is subject matter before a single judge, who by way of an interim order had restrained the 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 petitioner further submitted that the Delhi government is issuing such notifications every year, but he wants that the ban on gutka’ and other chewable tobacco products should be “strictly implemented”.
The bench, thereafter, agreed to hear the matter on February 13. The NGO, Fariyaad Foundation, has moved the court saying 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 said that ‘gutka’ has carcinogenic compounds and was a major cause of cancer in the oral cavity.It 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 sought formation of a permanent policy banning the sale, supply and production of chewable tobacco products, like ‘gutka’.