New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today sought the Centre’s response on pharma major Reckitt Benckiser’s plea challenging a government notification mandating that every pack of cosmetics should indicate whether it has any ingredient of animal origin. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw issued notice to the government and sought its response by May 18 on Reckitt Benckiser’s plea that the June 16, 2014 notification of Department of Consumer Affairs is contrary to provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
The department has issued the notification under the Legal Metrology Act, while the company has claimed that the issue falls under the scope of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The notification mandates that packages of cosmetics and toiletries like shampoos, toothpastes and soaps should bear a red/brown dot for non-vegetarian origin and green dot for vegetarian.
The company contended that Supreme Court in 2013 had held that without a “fruitful consideration” with Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) no amendment can be made or suggested to change label of drugs. It also contended that DTAB had not been agreeable to indicating, on labels of cosmetics, whether source of the product was vegetarian or non-vegetarian, “possibly because unlike food, cosmetics and toiletries are not for oral consumption and are manufactured from hundreds of ingredients whose source would not possible to ascertain”.
The company, in its plea, has sought quashing of the notification saying it is “arbitrary, irrational and discriminatory”. It has also said that the Bombay High Court in a similar plea by an association of manufacturers of cosmetics and toiletries had directed the government not to take “coercive steps” against the petitioner firms for not declaring whether their products contained any ingredient of animal origin.