In a recent ruling, the Delhi High Court upheld the state government’s notifications banning the manufacture, storage, distribution, or sale of scented/flavoured tobacco, pan masala, gutka, and similar products in the national capital.
The court set aside the single judge’s order that had previously quashed the notifications, holding that the ban was a policy decision made by the government to safeguard public health. The court also dismissed the argument by the manufacturers that the ban was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
The division bench observed that the government’s failure to take similar steps in respect of other injurious articles cannot be used to assert a right to manufacture sell or distribute harmful substances. The decision was taken by a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Yashwant Varma, who dealt with an appeal filed by the Delhi and Central government challenging the single judge’s order.
The court order noted that the ban did not apply to raw or pure tobacco but to tobacco mixed with other ingredients and additives, such as gutka, pan masala, flavoured/scented tobacco, and similar products. The ruling stated that food safety authorities have the power to prohibit food articles under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) and set aside the single judge’s findings that chewing tobacco, pan masala, and gutka do not fall within the ambit of expression ‘food’ in the FSSA.