GUWAHATI: The Gauhati high court has directed the Assam government to approach Food Safety Appellate Tribunal to resolve the issue of the presence of Magnesium Carbonate (MgCO3) in the pan masala products being sold across the state.
The court’s direction came in response to public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Jitul Deka, general secretary of Asomiya Yuva Mancha, a youth organisation of the state, seeking the court’s intervention in banning the manufacture, supply and sale of harmful products like pan masala in the state.
Earlier, the high court had directed the Assam government to conduct a sample test of pan masala products available in the market to check whether they contain harmful chemicals like MgCO3 which causes cancer and other deadly diseases.
Disposing of the PIL, the GHC in a recent order said, “…there is an alternative dispute resolution forum available under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 in the form of Adjudication and Food Safety Appellate Tribunal appointed under Section 68 of the Act. 4. It has been submitted that the said authority has already initiated the process of adjudicating the issues raised in this PIL. The learned counsel for the petitioner has also agreed about the existence of such a forum and is willing to pursue the issues raised hereinbefore the said forum. In that view of the matter, this Court is of the opinion that it will be desirable if the dispute resolution authority resolves the issues raised in this PIL.”
The petitioner had complained that MgCO3 was found in large quantities in some pan masala products available in Assam.
“Though the state government has taken steps to prohibit the manufacture, storage, transportation, display, distribution or sale of gutkha, pan masala or any chewing material containing tobacco or nicotine, no such steps have been taken in terms of pan masala or chewing material containing magnesium carbonate. States like Bihar, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have prohibited certain brands of pan masala, which are available in Assam after they were found to contain MgCO3,” the petitioner said.
Studies have found that the presence of MgCO3 in pan masala makes it a stimulator in causing cardiac arrest and cancer, among other diseases.