The Supreme Court on Tuesday banned the use of plastic for packaging of gutka and paan masala from March 2011 and asked the health ministry to undertake a study on the harmful effects of such tobacco products and plastic pouches on human health.
A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly asked gutka manufacturers to start using eco-friendly material for packaging or close down.
The order came on a bunch of petitions filed by gutka manufacturers against the Rajasthan High Court’s August 2007 order banning use of plastic sachets for gutka and paan contents. Applying the ‘polluter pays’ rinciple, the high court had also ordered fines on manufacturers using plastic sachets.
The SC had in September 2007 stayed the HC order but keeping in mind the seriousness of the issue it had made the Centre a party to the petitions.
The order came as a blow to gutka manufacturers, who argued before the apex court that such an order would lead to closure of the industry.
When the counsel representing the gutka industry expressed the apprehension that they might have to close down, the court said it would be better for the country.
“These days in colleges, elections are held and crores of rupees are spent and whisky flows, Today, students are concerned with two things. They are worried about cricket, film and entertainment. They want quick grab of the luxuries. And the country is getting ministers and judges from these students only. This is completely uprooting our national culture,” the bench said.
The SC also asked the health ministry to get the effects of packaging these products in plastics pouches on health examined. The study has to be completed in 8 weeks and the case will be taken up on March 9.