Delhi HC Uphelds 50 Pc Warning Label Size On Pan Masala Packages

Pan Masala Packages

The Delhi High Court has upheld the Central Government’s decision to enlarge statutory warnings on pan masala packages, mandating that warnings cover 50% of the front label, an increase from the previous 3 mm font size.

The court’s ruling came in response to a petition by Dharampal Satyapal Limited, makers of popular brands like Rajnigandha and Tansen, challenging the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regulation set to take effect in May 2024. The company argued that there was no scientific basis for the significant increase in warning size, claiming that no studies were conducted by the Scientific Panel or Scientific Committee under the Food Safety and Standards Act prior to the decision.

The company also pointed out inconsistencies in warning sizes for other harmful products like betel nut and alcohol, which maintain a 3 mm warning size.

FSSAI defended the regulation by highlighting the historical context of warning statements, noting updates in 1990 and 2011 to reflect the health risks of chewing pan masala. The agency argued that the larger warning size is part of a public health policy to enhance consumer awareness, fitting within reasonable restrictions under Article 19(6) of the Indian Constitution.

In its judgment, the High Court found the company’s claims unmerited, noting that the Scientific Committee recommended the increased warning size during its 31st meeting on November 15, 2018, based on the Scientific Panel’s conclusion that pan masala is unsafe for human consumption. The court stated that the regulation aims to protect the larger public interest.

The court referenced guidelines from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, indicating a worldwide recommendation for banning pan masala, and noted that the FSSAI has taken the limited step of increasing the warning size. The court remarked that the company’s resistance to the increased warning size, despite acknowledging the health hazards, shows they prioritize personal interest over public health.

Consequently, the court dismissed the company’s plea.

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About the Author: Meera Verma