New Delhi (Agencies): The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to relax its order of banning sale of tobacco products in plastic sachets from March after taking note of Government's submission that 90 per cent of oral cancer cases in the country are on account of chewing tobacco.

A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly refused to relax the deadline imposed by it on December 7, while taking on record an expert panel's findings, submitted to it by the Centre on the harmful impact of various tobacco products on human health.

The court also sought government's response on various interim and interlocutory applications challenging the government's February 4 notification, implementing the central law, the Plastic Management and Disposal Rules 2009, to regulate the use of plastic for packaging gutka and other tobacco products.

The government had notified the law on February 4 after the bench had rebuked it on February 2 for not implementing the law and asked it to notify the same within two days.

Quoting from the research report submitted by an expert panel engaged by the government, Subramanium told the court that 86 per cent of oral cancer cases in the world originate from India and of this 90 per cent are on account of chewing tobacco products.

The court was hearing an appeal filed by gutka and pan masala manufacturers challenging a Rajasthan High Court order banning use of plastic sachets.     

Endorsing the high court order, the bench had on December 7 restrained gutka, pan masala and chewing tobacco manufacturers from using plastic as packaging material for their products by March 1 this year and ordered the government to entrust an independent agency with the task of testing the contents of these sachets to evaluate the risk they pose to consumers.