The Delhi High Court, on Tuesday, ruled that chewing tobacco and pan masala do not come under the definition of 'food' prescribed by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
The Court was hearing an Appeal filed by the Food Inspector, challenging an order passed by the Court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, which had refused to take cognizance of a report submitted by the Public Analyst.
The report pertained to a sample of 'Premium Chewing Tobacco' taken from the accused by the Inspector. The Public Analyst had found that the sample was adulterated as it contained 3.78% Nicotine, in violation of Rule 44J of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, which prohibits usage of tobacco and nicotine as ingredients in any food products.
The Magistrate had, however, ruled that 'Premium Chewing Tobacco' is covered by the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. It, therefore, asserted that it would not come under the definition of 'food' as per Section 2(v) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
Upholding this reasoning, Justice Vinod Goel explained, "It is clear after going through the Schedule of the CPT Act that "Chewing Tobacco" and "Pan Masala" which has tobacco as one of its ingredients comes within the definition of "Tobacco Products" as per Section 3(p) of the CPT Act. None of the items including chewing tobacco mentioned in the Schedule could be included in the definition of "food" under Section 2(v) (a) of the PFA, 1954 since none of these items could be said to be used as food for human consumption or ordinarily enter into or are used in the composition or preparation of human food.
Further if the legislature intended to include Pan Masala having tobacco as one of its ingredients or Chewing Tobacco as a “food” item under Section 2(v) (a) of the PFA, 1954 then it would have been specifically mentioned in Appendix B which contains the standards of quality of all food items falling under the PFA, 1954. Therefore since "Chewing Tobacco" and Pan Masala containing tobacco as one of its ingredients come within the ambit of the CPT Act, Rule 44J of the PFA, 1954 cannot be said to apply to these products."