"What are the harmful effect of gutkhas? Do you know how many patients are suffering from cancer because of this?" a Bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said when Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium submitted that government has appointed a committee to go into the effects of use of plastics in sachets for gutkhas.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the ban imposed by the Rajasthan High Court on use of plastics for manufacturing of sachets for gutkhas.
"What to do with plastics used in Gutkha cover?" the bench wanted to know from the Solicitor General who was seeking time for filing the report of the committee examining the issue.
"Government is not doing anything and only appointing committees," the Bench said and added "there must be ban on the sale of these items".
It also cited government apathy by referring to the pathetic condition of river Yamuna by saying that there was a headline in a newspaper that 'flood in September and 'nullah' (drain) in October'.
"We have not been able to prevent the chocking of the river Yamuna. Today, every city and village in India is chocked," the Bench said. Subramanium responded to the concerns of the Bench and said "I see that the observations made by this court is relevant to the plastics and the issue of plastic bags have to be addressed".
"We also have to find the cases where the plastic bags can be used," he said.
While the Bench was speaking about the harmful effects of gutkha and tobacco and referred to the warnings written on cigarette packets, the Solicitor General said "it has helped and smoking has come down".
"Such mention should also be there on gutkha sachets," the Bench said and expressed displeasure that steps are taken late.
It said though the rule for writting warning on cigarette packet was made in 2005, it was implemented in 2009.
At this point when Subramnium said "we can't allow suffering (because of gutkhas)," the Bench shot back "but you are".
After the brief hearing, the Bench allowed four weeks to the Centre to place the report of the committee and affidavit before it and posted the matter for hearing on December