HC directs state to respond to PIL seeking taskforce to curb sale of gutkhaUpdated: Aug 12, 2020 23:50 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday directed the state government to file an affidavit in reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) which sought directions to constitute a special task force led by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to deal with manufacturing, selling, trading of banned products including gutkha, khaini, zarda and other products which could contribute towards the spread of Covid-19. The plea seeks stringent laws to implement the ban as well as immediate action against cartels, hoarders and transporters from Madhya Pradesh.
A division bench of justice AA Sayed and justice SP Tavade, while hearing the PIL filed by lawyer Arvind Singh, was informed by senior advocate Jamshed Cama along with advocates Anil Mishra and Jindagi Shah that one of the contributors to the spread of Covid 19 was banned products like gutkha, khaini and zarda. Cama submitted that as Covid-19 spreads through droplets from the mouth, infected persons who consumed these products could transfer the infection through their saliva when they spit in public places. Cama further submitted that smoking could also result in the spread of the virus.
Cama further submitted that though the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011 banned the use of gutkha and nicotine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Maharashtra had banned the use of these products from time to time through orders. He also submitted that the Maharashtra FDA had, on February 7, announced that persons found manufacturing gutkha would be booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime (MCOCA) Act.
He submitted that as the ban was in place, the products were coming from Madhya Pradesh after the district magistrate of Indore allowed pan masala wholesalers and retailers to sell their products outside the district. He submitted that a large consignment of gutkha had entered Maharashtra which posed a huge threat to the lives of the citizens, and hence immediate steps should be taken to stop it.
Cama stressed there was an urgent need to form a special task force to be led by CBI to unearth the trade routes, manufacturing units and selling points to stop the use of gutkha and related products.
After hearing the submissions, the court directed the state to file an affidavit in response to the plea and posted the matter for hearing on September 1.