Inkjet and printing ink manufacturer and supplier Videojet Technologies (I) Private Limited has reportedly been found in violation of the Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Videojet, which is a part of the Danaher Group, manufactures two commonly used chemicals -- MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) and Acetone -- to manufacture printing inks.
It is being alleged and reported that Videojet has imported millions of litres of inks and solvents since 2013 without acquiring a license to do so.
Customs officials recently uncovered this illegal activity and reportedly sealed the the Videojet warehouse (where is it?) on September 6.
What is not known to many is that both chemicals -- MEK and Acetone -- are also used in the purification and manufacture of drugs like cocaine, heroin and amphetamines.
The matter is now in court and will come up for hearing on November 10. As of now, the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) has reportedly been asked to submit a clarification as to the exact percentages of MEK and Acetone beyond which they are controlled.
Petitioner Videojet Technologies (I) Private Limited approached the Bombay High Court with a plea for immediate relief earlier this month (October 13). In their order of that date, high court Justices A.K.Menon and A.S.Oka said, "As regards wider relief, we must note here that the learned counsel for the first respondent (Commissioner of Customs (Imports)) submitted that the work of testing of seized material/goods will be completed within a period of two weeks from today. He (Commissioner of Customs (Imports)) states that the some test reports have already been received by the department. We accept the said statement. As we are keeping this petition on 10th November 2017, wider interim relief sought by the petitioner will be considered in the light of the decision taken by the second respondent."
The court also said if the petitioner produces documents in support of its case that the goods are locally procured, the respondent will immediately release the locally procured goods.
Counsel for the petitioner informed the court that necessary documents will be furnished in the office of Rahul Yadav, Deputy Commissioner of Customs.
The United Nations, through the International Narcotics Control Board, has published a list of precursor chemicals, and to be compliant with the same, India has also enacted similar legislation to regulate import, export and use of both MEK and Acetone since 2013.
In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) notifies all mixtures containing MEK, Acetone and other solvents above 35 percent as they are considered controlled substances (https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/21cfr/cfr/1310/1310_12.htm).
The EU also has legislated that all mixtures of MEK, Acetone and other solvents are to be considered as controlled substances.
It is highly improbable for the CBN to issue a fresh import NOC to Videojet until the existing investigation is completed, especially since nothing precluded Videojet from applying for a license during the past four years.
Until the CBN clarification and the November 10 court hearing, Videojet has reportedly been prevented from importing further ink and solvents.
Videojet has also been reportedly instructed that even its non-MEK fluids have to be verified through by government-run forensic laboratories.