The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to lift the ban on sale of tobacco products such as gutka and pan masala in plastic sachets and allowed several civil societies and manufacturers of non-smoking, chewing tobacco products such as gutka to become a party to the proceedings against a plea for their sale in plastic sachets.

A Bench of Justices G. S. Singhvi and K. S. Radhakrishnan, after hearing counsel for gutka manufacturers, made it clear that the stay could not be vacated.

The Bench allowed impleadment applications of various stakeholders, observing that it would hear all their concerns. It directed Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam to file the Centre's response to the issues raised by the stakeholders within four weeks, and granted four weeks thereafter for the gutka manufacturers and other non-governmental organisations to file their replies, if any.

The Bench directed the government to make available to the parties concerned within two weeks copies of the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare report submitted to the Supreme Court in February on the contents of gutkha, tobacco, pan masala and similar articles manufactured in the country and on the harmful effects of consuming such articles. The Bench posted the matter to July 20.

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