SC stays Madras HC order quashing ban on gutka, tobacco products in TN

Representational image (Photo: Getty Images)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a Madras High Court order, which quashed a May 2018 notification prohibiting sale, manufacture, and transport of gutkha, and other tobacco-based products in Tamil Nadu.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and Additional Advocate General Amit Anand Tiwari, representing the Tamil Nadu government, submitted before a bench headed by Justice K.M. Joseph that health is a state subject and cited a top court directive justifying the ban imposed on sale, manufacture and transport of gutkha, and other tobacco-based products.

Sibal argued that the state exchequer is burdened by health issues, which arise as a consequence of chewing of tobacco and the government has every right to take care of the health of its citizens.


The state government had contended that orders of the Food Safety Commissioner banning sale, storage, manufacture of gutkha and other tobacco products are backed by Regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011.

The bench, also comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna, stayed the high court order passed on January 20, saying that the state government has made out a case to stay the impugned judgment.

The top court allowed the manufacturers to approach the appropriate forum.

In March, the top court had sought a reply on a plea filed by Tamil Nadu government challenging an order of the Madras High Court quashing the May 2018 notification.

The top court sought response from the food safety commissioner, Jayavilas Tobacco Traders and others.

The state government, in its appeal, contended that the high court erroneously held that notifications banning gutkha and pan masala in the state issued by the Food Safety Commissioner under Regulation 2.3.4 of the 2011 regulations are not within his powers.

The high court had observed that the Food Safety Commissioner, by issuing successive notifications imposing a permanent ban on tobacco products, would amount to conferring a power that was not provided in the law.