HC reprieve for gutka manufacturers

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Mumbai, Jan 17 (UNI) While terming a newly added provision in the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act as prima facie bad in law, the Bombay High Court today restrained the state government from taking any further steps persuant to FIRs lodged against Gutka manufacturers Ghodavat Industries and Manickchand Industries under the provision.

The Central Government had, last year, added a provision 44J to the PFA Act banning use of tobacco as ingredient in any manufactured food items, which has virtually banned Pan Masala and Gutka as these products have been treated as manufactured food products.

Ghodavat Industries and Manickchand had moved the high court after Food and Drug Administration lodged FIRs against the companies and inititated action. Both the companies have challenged the provision saying since the products were governed by a special act -- Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, the newly enacted provision could not be made applicable to Pan Masala and Gutka.

Referring to a judgement of the Apex Court which says ''whenever conflict arises between provisions of PFA Act and Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, the provisions of the Special Act would prevail over the general act PFA Act, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice J P Deodhar today gave the primary finding.

The court has said that prima facie the newly added provision was bad in law, but instead of staying its operation, since it covered several other products than Pan Masala and Gutka, the judges restrained state authorities from taking any further steps persuant to FIRs lodged against Ghodavat and Manikchand Industries.

The matter will now come up for further hearing after eight weeks.

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