HC begins hearing on petitions against bigger pictorial warning on tobacco packs

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday began hearing on petitions filed in five different High Courts across the country questioning the new rules enhancing the area for displaying health warning to 85 per cent from 40 per cent of the principal area on the packs of tobacco products.

The manufacturers of cigarette, beedi and other tobacco products had filed petitions in Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, Gujarat and Rajasthan HCs questioning the constitutional validity of the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014.

A special Division Bench comprising Justice B.S. Patil and Justice B.V. Nagarathna commenced day-to-day hearing of the petitions, which were transferred to the Karnataka High Court by the Supreme Court for a consolidated hearing.

While a few HCs had stayed operation of the new rules, the Rajasthan High Court had directed the Union government to implement the rules, which were notified in October 15, 2014 but were not implemented for about a year.

The Karnataka HC, acting on a petition filed by the Karnataka Beedi Industry Association in December 2015, had initially stayed implementation of the rules but lifted the stay in February 2016 while citing a direction issued by the Supreme Court in 2009 asking HCs not to interfere in implementation of the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008.

The contention of the manufacturers is that these restrictions adversely impact their right to speech and expression, and right to trade and business. It is also their claim that the pictorial warnings were imposed on the ‘assumption’ that tobacco is dangerous to health without concrete evidence to substantiate this theory.

Assistant Solicitor General Krishana S. Dixit has been appointed as a special counsel to represent the Union government in these cases.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 7:53:52 PM |

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