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Is tobacco plastic sachet ban being implemented, SC asks

Thursday August 25, 2011 08:44:38 PM, IANS

New Delhi: More than five months after the ban on the use of plastic pouches to pack chewing tobacco and pan masala came into effect, the Supreme Court Thursday asked the government to report how its proscription order was being implemented.

A bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice H.L. Dattu said that if it was not satisfied with the enforcement of its ban order then it would pass further orders.

The court order came after it was told by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) counsel Pranav Sachdeva that the government has totally failed to implement its ban order.

Pranav Sachdeva sought the setting up of a monitoring committee to assess whether the government had properly implemented the court's order banning use of plastic sachets for marketing tobacco products.

The apex court by its Dec 7, 2010 order had banned the sale of chewing tobacco and other pan masala in plastic sachets. The order came into force from March 1, 2011.

When some of the chewing tobacco manufacturers sought to trace some confusion in the Dec 7, 2010 order, the court passed another order on May 11, 2011 which said that chewing tobacco manufacturers would not use plastic material in any form or in any packaging for selling their products.

The chewing tobacco manufacturers said that confusion arose because of the use of the word "sachets" in the Dec 7, 2010 order which means one-time use packing.

"We make it clear that Gutka, Tulsi and Pan Parag manufacturers shall not use plastic material in any form or in any packaging for selling their products," read the May 11 order of the court.

The court had passed the order after it was told that Dharampal Satyapal Group of Companies -- manufacturers of chewing tobacco Rajnigandha and Tulsi -- were marketing their product in plastic pouches in violation of court's orders.

The court had also issued show-cause notice on an application by CPIL seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against them.

Appearing for the Dharampal Satyapal Group of Companies, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court Thursday that "we had not committed any contempt and if we have then we are extremely sorry for it... we did not intend to commit any contempt".

The court was told that soon after the court order (of May 11, 2011) they immediately stopped the use of plastic sachets.

To a query by the court, Additional Solicitor General Mohan Jain said the packing in which chewing tobacco was being sold after the ban came into force were not sachets. He said that sachets were one-time use packing.

Appearing for another chewing tobacco manufacturer, senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan said that packing made of paper does not have shelf life beyond one month or so. Thus paper sachets have been put in plastic envelop.

He told the court that as per court's directions, the use of plastic sachets for packing chewing tobacco has been stopped.

The matter will come up for hearing on Sep 7.




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