Justices R.V. Raveendran and B. Sudershan Reddy refused to enter into a debate on the pros and cons of forcing everyone to consume iodised salt saying it was an issue that health experts should decide.
But it struck down a rule that banned sale of common salt only on the ground that food adulteration rules had such a provision.The Centre will have to review its policy and if it decides to still retain the existing system of only permitting iodised salt for human consumption, it will have to bring in a fresh law, the judges said earlier this week while disposing of PILs filed by NGOs.
The Academy of Nutrition Improvement, one of the NGOs, argued that the sale of iodised salt should be restricted to iodine-deficient pockets. Some non-iodised salt makers challenged the ban saying it violated their constitutional right to practise any trade, occupation or business. Others said the cost of iodised salt was higher and some MNCs had a monopoly on them.
Section 44H of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 2005, says: “No person shall sell common salt for direct human consumption unless the same is iodised.” The NGOs urged the court to declare the rule unconstitutional.Although the Centre had propagated the use of iodised salt since 1962 to check iodine-deficiency disorders such as goitre, it was optional for states till May 27, 1998, when the non-iodised variety was banned across the country.
The curbs followed the recommendations of a panel that universal iodisation of salt was a public health need. But experts opposing the ban on common salt have claimed such disorders also occur from water, food and hygiene-related factors.