Mumbai: In a major victory for the Maharashtra government, the Bombay High Court on Saturday upheld its decision to ban tobacco flavoured gutka and pan masala in the state from July 19.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar, while hearing petitions by gutka and pan masala makers challenging the ban, also ruled that the products qualified as food under the Food Safety and Standards Act and thus the Food and Drugs Administration had the jurisdiction to ban them.
Making a strong plea on behalf of the government, advocate general D Khambatta said that both gutka and pan masala were 'poison' as laboratory tests had proved they contained harmful ingredients like zinc, nicotine and magnesium carbonate.
While imposing the ban two months ago, the government had highlighted the carcinogenic (cancer causing) nature of gutka and pan masala.
The court allowed the petitioners time till September 25 to enable them to move the Supreme Court and directed the government not to destroy seized lots of gutka and pan masala, worth over Rs 100 million, until then.
The court also dismissed the manufacturers' plea to permit thoroughfare to their products from Rajasthan and Karnataka through Maharashtra and Gujarat, where gutka and pan masala are similarly banned.