PANJIM: The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the health amendment made by the then Manohar Parrikar government in 2004 banning gutka and tobacco dismissing the petition filed by Ghodawat Pan Masala Products.
Although gutka, pan masala and other flavoured tobacco products were banned from January 2003 under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, the apex court had struck down this notification a year later saying such prohibition for an indefinite period did not fall within the domain of State food authorities.
After the Supreme Court decision, legislation was enacted under the Goa Public Health Act 1985 wherein all the prohibited food products were brought under the purview of injurious food.
Speaking to Herald, National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (India), President, Dr Shekar Salkar said, “I am extremely happy at least that the case has taken a logical end which is in favour of the health of the people. SC has upheld the power of the state to enact a law which will be beneficial to the health of the people”
He added, “The second issue which was laid to rest by the SC is the petitioner’s claim that it was not eatable but chewable. After the government came up with the Goa Health Amendment Act, the same company had gone to the HC but it was upheld and later they again challenged the ban in the SC which today again upheld the amendment dismissing the petition filed by Ghodawat Pan Masala Products.”
Ghodawat Pan Masala Products, flavoured-tobacco majors in the State, wanted the notification and the two regulations under the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, based on which the state issued the ban, set aside as unconstitutional and contrary to a 2004 Supreme Court judgment which ruled against a similar ban.
The manufacturers also argued and wanted the court to order the State to stop raiding their vendors as an interim measure. “Areca nut growers depend on the gutka and paan masala industry and the ban will cause severe harm to farmers,” they had prayed.