Andhra Pradesh High Court on Pan masala

In this article, we will discuss the recent court verdict in Dasa Shekar v. The State of A.P., where the court declared that Pan Masala or Gutka containing tobacco cannot be considered “food.” We explore the background of the case and the legal reasoning behind the court’s decision.

The court ruled that the State Commissioner of Food Safety cannot ban the manufacture and sale of gutka and pan masala.

But what exactly does this decision mean for pan masala & gutka manufacturers and consumers? Is it a victory or a setback for public health and safety? So, stay tuned and join us as we explore the most recent A.P. High Court decision on gutka and pan masala.


Food Safety Commissioner Cannot Ban Tobacco 

The Andhra Pradesh Court recently declared that in Section 30(2)(a) of the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, the Food Safety Commissioner of Andhra Pradesh does not have any authority to ban the manufacture and sale of Pan Masala & Gutka (FSSA 2006). The court, which was usually made up of Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice D.V.S.S. Somayajulu, ordered that the FSSA 2006’s authorities can’t directly Ban Pan Masala & Gutka manufacturing.

The court’s decision showcases the Commissioner of Food Safety’s authority in imposing tobacco product bans. It highlights the importance of establishing a simple and straightforward legal structure that directly highlighted the issue of Pan Masala & Gutka. The decision also acts as a reminder that regulatory authorities must operate within the boundaries of their legislation and cannot impose bans or sanctions without proper legal assurance. Finally, the court’s decision clarifies the purpose and boundaries of the FSSA 2006 and how it relates to tobacco product regulation in India.

Petitioners’ Arguments

The petitioners relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in Godawat Pan Masala Products I.P. LTD. v. Union of India and others, which held that the Central Government has the authority to ban a section of food or a section used as an ingredient in food because it is harmful to health. They claimed that the Commissioner of Food Safety certainly lacks authority to issue the notification under Section 30(2)(a) of the FSSA, 2006 because tobacco is not considered a “food” covered by the FSSA, 2006. It is instead an item covered by the COTPA, 2003, which comes into the picture over the FSSA, 2006 because the COTPA, 2003 is a special act and the FSSA, 2006 is a general act.

Respondent’s Arguments

The Prosecution must prove that the FSSA, 2006 is a food because after repealing multiple Food Laws with the goal of fixing scientifically based food standards and regulating, and monitoring the manufacturing, import, processing, distribution, and sale of food to ensure the public’s access to safe and wholesome food. The respondent claimed that it issued the notification under Section 30(2) of the FSSA, 2006 because chewing tobacco is considered “food” because it is kept in the mouth and chewed, and it is then mixed with saliva and absorbed into the body.

Tobacco Products: Food or Not Food?

Tobacco cannot be classified as “food” under the FSSA because no science-based standards can be established to regulate its sale, distribution, and storage in order to guarantee healthy and nutritious food tobacco for human consumption.

The High Court was hearing a group of legal petitions filed by Dwarapudi Sivarama Reddy and other gutka distributors. They were trying to claim the Commissioner of Food Safety’s notice. The petitioners argued that because tobacco is not a food product, the state government lacked the authority to issue a notification prohibiting Pan Masala & Gutka manufacture and sale.

Court Decision

The Division Bench in the case of Dasa Shekar v. The State of A.P. referred to various judgments including the Godawat Pan Masala Products I.P. Ltd. case, which held that the State Food (Health) Authority has no power to prohibit the manufacture, storage, and sale or distribution of any article containing tobacco unless there is a wider policy decision or parliamentary legislation. The court also cited the ITC Ltd. v. Agricultural Produce Market Committee case, where the Supreme Court held that tobacco is not a foodstuff. Based on these judgments, the court declared that Pan Masala or Gutka containing tobacco cannot be considered “food,” and the Commissioner of Food Safety, Andhra Pradesh has no jurisdiction to issue notifications prohibiting their manufacture, sale, and distribution.

Court Case: Dasa Shekar vs. The State of A.P

Click Here To Read/Download the Order


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Powers of State Governments under FSSA 2006

The court, which comprised of Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice D.V.S.S. Somayajulu, governed that because the Legislative body has not decided to impose a straightforward restriction on Pan Masala & Gutka, the experts under the FSSA 2006 cannot do so indirectly. The power to ban a food item or an ingredient used in food on the premises that are harmful to health belongs to the central government, and the State Food (Health) Authority has no such authority. If the State Food Authority planned to have such authority, it could only come about as a result of wider policy decisions and legislation related to the COTPA, 2003.

The court also stated that the Indian government clearly stated that zarda, khaini, and other smokeless tobacco are not covered by the FSSA 2006. Tobacco, rolling tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, pan masala, gutka, and other tobacco products are all included in the concept of tobacco under the COTPA, 2003.

The court ordered that the participants release the petitioners’ captured products and avoid taking any forceful action against them under the provisions of the FSSA 2006 against licensed businesses.


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