Mumbai: In a victory for the state government and the anti-tobacco activists, the Bombay High Court on Saturday upheld the ban on gutka and pan masala – both flavoured tobacco products -- in Maharashtra.

Hearing a bunch of petitions filed by gutka and pan masala manufacturers, the division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar held that gutka and pan masala fell within the definition of "food" under the Food Safety and Standards Act, and the Commissioner of Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has the power to ban them.

The court ordered the state government not to destroy the seized gutka pouches till September 25, so as to enable the petitioners to seek relief from Supreme Court.

The manufacturers claim that production worth Rs 10 crore has been seized after the ban was imposed on July 19.

The High Court also rejected the manufacturers' plea that they be allowed to transport their products from Karnataka to Rajasthan through Maharashtra and Gujarat.

HC said such a passage could not be allowed, as both Gujarat and Maharashtra have banned gutka.

Petitioners had argued that gutka was not a "food" under the Act, so FDA had no power to ban it. Dhariwal Industries, one of the petitioners, had also argued that state's notification only banned gutka and not pan masala.

(Agencies)

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