Rasiklal Dhariwal, an Indian gutka baron has been sentenced to one year's imprisonment by a court in the State of Maharashtra, after his Manikchand Gutka brand was found to contain high levels of magnesium carbonate which is capable of harming the health of human beings. A court in the municipal town of Pimpri-Chinchwad in Pune District pronounced the sentence along with a fine of Rs.5,000, acting on a 1997 complaint filed by a health laboratory in the municipality.
The complaint also named M.M. Joshi, the owner of Goa Gutka, which is another major brand and a rival of Manikchand. The Central Government is currently mulling a ban on gutka, or chewing tobacco. Maharashtra had earlier banned the sale of gutka but it was lifted by the Supreme Court.
Dhariwal claimed innocence and said he would appeal to the higher courts against the sentence. Dhariwal and Joshi are also involved in a case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation for their alleged links with the underworld. Both men are non-resident Indians (NRIs) and were business partners in the early 1990s before they fell out.
They are accused of having approached underworld don Dawood Ibrahim to mediate in the settlement of dues in exchange for setting up a gutka business for his younger brother Anees Ibrahim.