Delhi HC issues notice to Centre seeking ban on tobacco ads

New Delhi: Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Health Ministry on a public suit seeking directions to concerned authorities to impose a ban over advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of any tobacco product in any form.

The public suit also seeks direction to the concerned authorities to constitute a special investigation team headed by independent officials to investigate alleged illegalities being committed by the company manufacturing product “Chaini Khaini”.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar also warned that it will impose cost against Health Ministry, if the ministry failed to file a reply by the next date of hearing on March 11. The court has also asked NCPCR, DCPCR, Delhi Government and tobacco company to file a reply on the petition.

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According to petitioner and social worker Dipesh Jha, the respondent company is a leading tobacco manufacturing company under MAHAK Group. The said Company inter alia manufactures and markets tobacco product popularly called ‘Khaini’

under the brand ‘Chaini Khaini’. The petitioner said that the company is

involved in a series of illegal activities including surrogate advertisement which violates Article 13 of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) ratified by India on February 5, 2004, and Section 5 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act, 2003.

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The petitioner’s advocate Gaurav Kumar and Vaibhav Gupta told the court that children under the age of fourteen years working with the respondent company for manufacturing, packaging, selling and advertising tobacco products under the brand name of ‘Chaini Khaini’. The petitioner advocate requested the court to direct the concerned authorities for safeguarding the fundamental rights of children of tender age working in manufacturing units of the tobacco company and to implement proper rehabilitatory measures.

The petitioner said that the company advertises the product ‘Chaini Khaini’ in such a manner which gives an impression to the general masses that it is a herbal product which is beneficial to their health. The company has also not put any statutory warning or such photos on the pouch of the product.

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