CHENNAI: Madras HC set aside an order of the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) in Gwalior regarding division of merchants over import of poppy seeds for cooking use.
Justice M M Sundresh set aside the order allowing a petition from city-based Sri Adinath Traders challenging the September 14, 2015 order of the CBN.
The order divided the importers who are the merchants of poppy seeds into 'A' category, who were allowed to import 270 tonnes from Turkey for the last five financial years, and 'B' category, who can import only 180 tonnes.
Importers under the 'B' category will have to wait for their chance, subject to the availability of the seeds after exhausting the requirement of 'A' category traders.
Petitioner's counsel B Sathish Sundar submitted that the new order violated Articles 14 (equality) and 19(1)(g) (freedom to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business) of the Constitution.
There was no level-playing field and it will lead to trading by the 'A' category importers alone with the 'B' category traders, inclusive of those who may not get any allotment.
Allowing the petition, the judge said,"The poppy seeds are used by the general public covering whole of this country. Therefore, it is immaterial from whom they buy. There is no public interest involved by allowing selling the seeds only by certain traders. As there is no dispute that all the importers are catering to the needy persons for the very same purpose, such a classification is illusory, artificial and evasive."
He said a classification had to be reasonable and differentiation must distinguish a group of persons, relatable to the object and has to be an element of rationality.
The judge, however, said the the narcotics bureau was at liberty to issue a fresh notice as per law.