The petitions were filed by manufacturers of chewing tobacco challenging the rules banning the product’s sale in plastic sachets. The ban came into force March 1.
An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan gave the government four weeks to file its reply.
The court also gave four weeks to the manufacturers and NGOs to file their response to the government’s reply.
The judges also allowed NGOs and manufacturers of chewing tobacco to join the case as parties.
The court directed the government to make available to the parties within two weeks the copies of a report of the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) of Feb 17 on use of tobacco.
The NIPH conducted the study on the court’s direction and it indicated that “86 percent of oral cancer cases in the world occur in India and out of these 86 percent cases, in 90 percent cases chewing tobacco was the cause”.
The report said that “24 percent of the school-going children are addicted to chewing gutka and pan masala”.
The tobacco manufacturers in their petitions contended that the rules prohibiting the use of plastic sachets for packaging their products was arbitrary and discriminatory