The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday ordered cases to be registered against those selling gutka under Section 337-A (shajjah, intentionally causing hurt) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
During the hearing of a petition against the use of mainpuri and gutka by a two-member SHC bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, petitioner Advocate Muzammil Mumtaz had argued against the police registering cases for the sale of harmful substances under Section 336 of the PPC, which is a bailable offence.
He said this practice was the reason why those who manufacture and sell gutka got out of jail so quickly and resumed their activities with impunity.
Advocate Mumtaz had also alleged that despite the court ordering a complete ban on the sale of gutka and mainpuri in Karachi, it was being sold openly and in connivance with the police.
He said that due to the continuing sale of these narcotics, city dwellers had been exposed to dangerous diseases, including mouth cancer. He had further requested the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the Sindh police and provincial authorities for not implementing the ban in spirit.
Last week, the bench had directed provincial authorities to furnish a report by Oct 8 regarding legislation against the manufacture and sale of gutka and mainpuri in Sindh. During proceedings today, both health department and police officials were present in court to answer questions.
Dr Ghulam Haider testified that Jinnah Hospital's Outpatient Department (OPD) received over 300 cancer cases daily, of which 70 per cent comprised mouth cancer patients. He said the mouth cancer patients mainly comprised college and school students, as well as youth working in factories.
The bench requested the doctors to also take part in proceedings tomorrow, when the court will look into recommendations for legislation. The petitioners said they would provide the court with a more detailed record and data on the matter so that effective legislation can be done.
Justice Panhwar meanwhile ordered that gutka, mainpuri and mawa factories in the city be sealed and criticised police officials allegedly involved in their as making millions from the trade.
The judge also regretted that police officials who are penalised for misconduct seem to be suspended for a few days and then reinstated.
The hearing will resume tomorrow.