HYDERABAD: The Hyder­abad circuit bench of the Sindh High Court on Monday directed the Nuclear Institute of Medicine and Radiotherapy (NIMRA), Jamshoro, to submit a report on the impact of consumption of mainpuri and gutka on health, ratio of patients suffering from diseases caused by the tobacco products and their treatment.

The division bench comprising Justices Salahuddin Panh­war and Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui directed Sindh’s Inspector Gen­e­ral of Police (IGP) to launch a campaign across the province, particularly in coastal districts, against the products and ensure that retailers did not resume the business of mainpuri and gutka after mixing them with other products.

The court noted that action had been taken earlier against the mild drugs but it was not satisfactory.

It called for reports from universities on throat and dental patients and ordered that their samples be sent to laboratory for examination.

The court observed that in line with previous orders, sessions judges had filed reports, complaining that police were not cooperating with them though magistrates had conducted raids in this respect.

The court ordered IGP to direct senior superintendents of police (SSPs) to cooperate with magistrates and ensure compliance with its orders passed on Aug 18 and 28.

The court passed these directives on a petition filed by Jalil Ahmed who requested the court to issue directives to IGP and SSPs to provide protection to the J.A. Chhalya Masala company, its employees, distributors, auth­o­ri­sed agents, workers, labourers and transporters.

The court had directed all sessions judges in the previous hearing to order the magistrates to pay surprise visits to outlets selling hazardous products in the name of chhaliya and directed deputy inspectors general of pol­ice (DIGP) of Hyder­abad, Mirp­ur­khas and Shaheed Benazirabad ranges to launch a campaign against factories and shopkeepers selling such products.

The bench instructed the director general of health services Sindh to send samples of mainpuri and gutka recovered during raids to narcotics testing laboratories to determine quantity of tobacco in the products and find out whether they fell within the ambit of intoxicant or narcotics which were prohibited under the law.

The court suggested tabling of a bill on the issue of paan, mainpuri and gutka in Sindh Assembly and said it was expected the legislature would not delay the required legislation as the issue involved people’s lives.

The court ordered secretary and director of local government to personally attend hearing of the case and asked municipal authorities to submit a report on whether they had established laboratories.

The court directed DG health to obtain report from medical centres and hospitals on the diseases caused by these products and adjourned the matter to Sept 22.

The court observed in answer to the petitioner’s counsel that license to sell a product that was injurious to health could not be claimed as a matter of right.

Even absence of rules or law for such a thing would never be sufficient to bring such trade within the meaning of lawful trade, it said.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2017