The Supreme Court has sought a response to a plea challenging an order of the Madras High Court quashing a May 2018 notification prohibiting the sale, manufacture and transport of gutkha and other tobacco-based products.
A bench of justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna issued notice to Food Safety Commissioner, Jayavilas Tobacco Traders and others on a plea filed by the Tamil Nadu government.
“Issue notice in the special leave petition. Issue notice in the prayer for interim relief also” the bench said.
Additional Advocate General Amit Anand Tiwari, appearing for the state, argued that orders of the Food Safety Commissioner banning the sale, storage, manufacture, etc. of gutkha and other tobacco products are backed by Regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011.
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The high court had set aside a notification issued by the Food Safety Commissioner on May 23, 2018, banning the manufacture, storage, transport, distribution and sale of gutkha, pan masala and other chewable food products containing tobacco/nicotine as ingredients.
It had held that allowing the Food Safety Commissioner to impose a permanent ban on tobacco products by issuing successive notifications year after year would amount to conferring a power that was not provided in the law.
Holding that tobacco, with or without additives, is a food product, the high court had held that notifications banning gutkha and pan masala in Tamil Nadu issued by the Commissioner of Food Safety are not within his powers and quashed the same.