CHENNAI: The Madras high court has quashed a 2018 notification issued by the commissioner of food safety banning sale and manufacture of gutkha and pan masala in Tamil Nadu.
A division bench of Justice R Subramanian and Justice K Kumaresh Babu observed that the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) does not provide for complete ban on sale of gutkha products. The Act only provides limited power to impose a temporary ban in certain emergency situations, the judges added.
“What is sought to be achieved by the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 is a scientific method of processing of food and providing for food safety and standards,” the court said.
“If we are to uphold the power of the commissioner, food safety, to issue successive notifications under the FSSA, thereby imposing an almost permanent ban on a food product, we will be permitting something which was not contemplated by law and that will amount to doing violence to the provisions of the enactment,” the bench asserted in its order issued on January 20.
“We are, therefore, constrained to conclude that the successive notifications issued by the commissioner are not within their powers and they have exceeded their powers in issuing such successive notifications. We, therefore, quash the notifications on the ground that they are in excess of the powers of the commissioner of food safety,” the court concluded.
In 2013, the Tamil Nadu government imposed the ban on sale and manufacture of gutkha and pan masala products under the temporary provision in the Act which was extended continuously by issuing such notifications by the commissioner of food safety.
The court passed the order on a batch of pleas and appeals moved by manufacturers of tobacco products and the food safety department.