In a historic decision, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the state government to ban sale of ‘junk food’ in non bio-degradable packs from April 1, 2013, but exempted essential items like edible oil and milk from the ban.

A Division Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjay Karool directed that the list of non-essential items (junk food), identified by committee set up by the High Court, are not to be sold in non-biodegradable packing. The items included chips, wafers, biscuits, candy, chewing gum, ice cream, chocolates, noodles, sugary cereals, among other items.

The judges said that banning them was not in the court’s purview but to comply with the state law (HP Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act 1995), “these harmful items which are classified as junk foods if sold in HP in packed condition should be sold only in biodegradable packing”. Judges further added that it may make these items slightly more expensive and even if the consumption of these stuffs is reduced that will be better for the health of children and may finally end up saving crores of rupees which the state spends on health care, the judges pointed out.

The Bench proposed use of options such as tetra packs, tin packing or biodegradable plastic of 20 micro metre thickness is proposed. The Bench, however, said the list of food items identified for the ban is not final.