Expressing serious resentment over the performance of police to curb the menace of gutka and mainpuri, the Sindh High Court on Wednesday said that the paramilitary Rangers can independently take action against smugglers and manufacturers of the hazardous items to assist the police in their crackdown.

A two-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also observed that the Pakistan Coast Guards should also ensure strict action against the smugglers.

The bench directed the inspector general of police to hold an inquiry into the allegations that police were not showing a large part of seized gutka in their record and to call explanation from all SHOs regarding continuity of manufacturing and sale of such harmful items in their jurisdictions.

During the last hearing, the bench had directed the police to launch a crackdown across the province and incorporate a provision of the Pakistan Penal Code relating to causing hurt by means of a poison in the FIRs. The court also expressed displeasure at provincial authorities for delay in making legislation to fix the quantum of punishment for selling and manufacturing gutka and mainpuri.

At the outset of Wednesday’s hearing, the provincial law secretary submitted that on Oct 5 a proposed draft against the manufacturing and sale of gutka and mainpuri in the province was referred to the standing committee on law and parliamentary affairs with the terms of reference to examine the bill and report back to the provincial assembly within a week.

The doctor in charge of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre’s cancer department, Dr Ghulam Haider, filed a report in court stating that a total of 18,614 cancer patients were treated at the JMPC during the last five years and out of them 9,453 were suffering from mouth cancer.

He stated that betel nuts were also one of the reasons of causing cancer and the provincial authorities may be directed to impose a ban and such items may also be made part of the legislation.

Accordingly, the bench directed the health department to make legislation keeping in view the opinion of the doctors.