The Maharashtra government has allowed the state police to independently register criminal offences against those involved in sale and purchase of gutkha and flavoured tobbaco, which are banned in the state.
Earlier, police had to request officials of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lodge a complaint for registering offences in such cases.
Now, the state government has come up with a new policy for stricter implementation of the existing ban by directing police to register non-bailable offences against gutkha sellers and smugglers.
Special Inspector General of Police (Law & Order) Milind Bharambe issued a circular to all police units on July 16, informing them about the new directives.
The circular stated that a special meeting was conducted under the chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on July 5, wherein police were directed to initiate action against gutkha sellers and smugglers under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
A senior police official said the directives would provide a "free hand" to the police to initiate action against sale and purchase of gutkha and flavoured tobacco in the state.
The sale and consumption of gutkha, scented and flavoured tobacco has been banned in Maharashtra since 2012.
But in view of the rising use of these chewables among youth, the police have now been directed to independently register offences.
In 2018, the state government made sale of gutkha a non-bailable offence and enhanced the punishment for it from six months to three years.