SC agrees to hear plea against gutka and pan masala companies

The application, filed by an advocate alleged almost all the companies--Pan Parag, RMD Gutka, Dilbag Gutaka, Rajashree Gutka, Rajdarabar Gutka-- are flouting the apex court order which had banned using of plastics in gutka and pan masala sachets after March 1.

"Even long after the cut-off date of March 1, fixed by the Supreme Court, all the gutka and paan masala manufacturers are using plastic material in package sachets to sell such product to public. It is a deliberate and ingenious flouting of the law on their parts," advocate Abani Sahu, who filed the application, contended.

He submitted these companies continue to use regular plastic material within the outer paper packet.

"Many gutka and pan masala companies continue to use regular plastic material within the outward paper packaging material to deceptively conceal the usage of such plastic material and convey a misleading picture of superficial and seemingly visible external compliance with the Supreme Court's order," he said.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad, after hearing his arguments, posted the matter for final hearing on July 6.

The apex court had on May 11 issued a contempt notice to the Managing Director of Dharampal Satyapal group of companies, makers of two popular brands of tobacco Rajnigandha and Tulsi, for allegedly defying its order banning use of plastic sachets for sale of their products.

The Supreme Court had in December last imposed a ban on the use of plastic in packaging of tobacco products and set March 1 as the deadline within which the tobacco manufacturers need to implement its order.

The Supreme Court ruling had come in midst of reports that more than five million children under the age of 15 years in India suffer from various forms of mouth cancers, which is mainly attributed to unregulated consumption of gutkha. In states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, more than 16 per cent mouth cancer patients are children.

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