Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday declined to stay the ban imposed by the state government on the manufacture, storage and sale of gutka, pan masala and their variants containing tobacco and nicotine. Justice T R Ramachandran Nair passed the order on a batch of petitions filed by the All-Kerala Tobacco Dealers’ Association and others challenging the ban. The petitioners contended that the ban order is illegal as it has been issued in violation of principles of natural justice.
The court said that it would not be justified in granting a blanket order permitting petitioners to sell their products. If any action against the petitioners or any distributors or sellers was taken, then they could raise the matter at appropriate forums. The court also ordered that a fresh order or circular granting time to remove the articles in possession of the traders should be issued.
The court held that prima facie the notification is not illegal.The state said that some of the petitioners had not obtained the licence under the Food Safety and Standard Act for marketing the articles. An analysis of the products in the government analytical laboratory has revealed that the products available in the market contained nicotine and other harmful constituents such as magnesium and carbonate beyond the permissible limit.
“It is impractical for any law-enforcing authority to collect each and every sachet of pan masala and verify which pan masala had conformed to the standard. The label should mention the details of the ingredients. However, this has been violated,” the state said.