BANGALORE: Terming gutkha as a health hazard, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday said the Central and State Governments are empowered to take action against the manufacturers of gutkha under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and other similar provisions.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition by Lakshman Pachhapure, who had sought a direction to the authorities to take action against Dhariwal Industries, which manufacturers Manikchand gutkha.
Rebutting charges of adulteration of its product, Dhariwal said it did not add magnesium carbonate. However, magnesium is present in betel nut and carbonate in lime, both of which are essential ingredients in the making of gutkha.
It said magnesium carbonate is also not carcinogenic and that the Centre had not so far conducted any scientific study on the effects of magnesium carbonate on human health. There is a ban only on adding anti-caking agent to food products and that gutkha did not contain any.
The Bench observed that two reports of laboratories had indicated the presence of magnesium carbonate beyond prescribed limits.
It clarified that it is not against any product but concerned only about the health of the people. It said even students were now consuming gutkha.
When told that Dhariwal was not directly adding anti-caking agents in the preparation of gutkha and that it was also not directly adding magnesium carbonate, the Bench remarked that what cannot be added directly, cannot be added indirectly too.
It said it is for the Centre and State Governments to pass orders and disposed of the petition.