CHENNAI: Gutka and pan masala products are set to move out of the list of banned products in Tamil Nadu, as the Madras high court quashed the nine-year-old notification prohibiting the sale, manufacture and transport of these tobacco-based products.
Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) does not provide for complete ban on sale of gutka products. The Act provides only limited power to impose a temporary ban in certain emergency situations, ruled a division bench of Justices R Subramanian and K Kumaresh Babu on January 20.
The bench 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.”
“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,” it said.
“We are, therefore, constrained to conclude that the successive notifications issued by the commissioners 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.
It confirmed an order passed by a single judge quashing the notices issued by the food safety department seeking to prosecute a tobacco trader for alleged violation of the ban.
In 2013, the Tamil Nadu government imposed the ban on sale and manufacture of gutka 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.