The Bombay High Court on Monday asked three Jain religious charitable trusts and a city resident practicing Jainism why they were seeking to encroach on the rights of others by appealing for restrictions or ban on advertisements for meat and meat products in print and electronic media.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar further noted that the issue falls within the domain of the legislature and it cannot frame law/rules imposing bans.
Three religious charitable trusts and a Mumbai resident practising Jainism, claimed in their plea that their families, including children, are forced to watch such advertisements.
This infringed on their right to live peacefully and "tamper" with the minds of their children, the petitioners contended.
The high court while hearing the plea on Monday raised questions on the prayers made in the petition.
"What about violation of Article 19 of the Constitution? Why are you (petitioners) seeking to encroach on others' rights? Have you read the Preamble of our Constitution? It makes certain promises," Chief Justice Datta said.
The bench also noted that it may not have the jurisdiction to pass orders on the petition.
"You are asking the high court to order the state government to frame a rule, law or guidelines to ban something. This is a legislative action. It is for the legislative to say...not us," the court said.
The court noted that while an ordinary person has the option of switching off the television when such an ad comes, the court would have to look at the issue on the point of law.
The petitioners then sought to amend the petition to submit relevant orders of other high courts.
The bench directed the petitioners to withdraw the plea and file a fresh petition.
The petition had sought reliefs from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, the State, the Press Council of India, the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Department and the Advertisement Standards Council of India.
Apart from these, the petitioners also arraigned companies Licious, Freshtohome Foods and Meatigo as respondents.
They sought directions to the concerned authorities to frame and issue guidelines to restrict and ban advertisement of non-vegetarian foods across media.
The petitioners claimed that the advertisements were not only disturbing and causing harassment to people who believe in being vegetarian, but also infringe on their fundamental right of privacy.
"It is the fundamental right of everyone in this country to live with human dignity free from exploitation, however, the impugned advertisements exploit the minds of children and youngsters by provoking, promoting and intimidating to consume non-vegetarian foods," the plea said.
The government has already imposed a ban on advertising alcohol and cigarettes and like alcohol and cigarettes, non-vegetarian food is unhealthy and causes damage to the environment, the petitioners claimed.
The petitioners clarified that they are not opposed to the sale or consumption of such food and their plea was only against advertisements of such items.