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ALMT challenges Maharashtra gutka & pan masala ban with writ [download petition]

Gutka trade, booming
Gutka trade, booming
ALMT Legal won a stay on the Maharashtra state government’s order to destroy the gutka and paan masala siezed from tobacco major Ghodawat Pan Masala Products (Ghodawat) and five other gutka makers, in the Bombay high court yesterday.

The matter will be heard next on 7 August 2012.

ALMT Legal partners Hitesh Jain and Subhash Jadav with associate Stuti Jain acted for six Gutkha manufacturers including Ghodawat, in challenging the constitutional validity of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations 2011 – the regulations that impose a ban on the manufacture and sale of gutka in Maharashtra.

The petition also challenged the food commissioner’s order of 19 July 2012, prohibiting storage, sale or distribution of gutka in Maharashtra.

Chief justice Mohit Shah and justice NM Jamdar ordered an interim stay on the food commissioner’s order directing the destruction of the gutka siezed frrom the petitioner’s plants, and fixed 7 August for looking into the questions of constitutional validity.

Jain said that while the commissioner’s argument was that gutka was harmful for health and carcinogenic, the gutka makers were challenging its constitutional validity, and arguing that the product was already governed by the Tobacco Act 2003 and not the food safety laws.

Advocate Nalawde acted for the Maharashtra government, instead of advocate general of Maharashtra Darius Khambata who was absent yesterday. On 12 July 2012, the Maharashtra government ordered a state-wide ban on the sale of gutka, reported Express India.

Jain told Legally India that paan masala products were an industry worth Rs 2,000 crore, of which Ghodawat and Dhariwal industries were the biggest players.

The petition stated that thousands of farmers of areca nut and betel nut, either employed by the petitioners, or independent suppliers to the petitioners depend on them for their livelihood.

Photo by Vandana Rajagopalan

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