The Delhi High Court today has issued a notice to the Health Ministry on a plea seeking directions on imposing a ban on advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco products in any form, including surrogate advertisements for different products under a single brand name.
A division bench comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Delhi government, the Central government, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, among other relevant parties which were mentioned in public interest litigation filed by one, Dipesh Jha. The court has further notified that it will impose a cost against Health Ministry, if it failed to reply by the next date of hearing which was scheduled for 11 March.
The PIL filed by a social worker, Dipesh Jha has sought a direction to the concerned authorities to constitute a special investigation team to investigate the alleged illegalities being committed by the company manufacturing product “Chaini Khaini.”
According to the petitioner Dipesh Jha, the respondent is a leading tobacco manufacturing company under the MAHAK Group, which inter alia manufactures and markets tobacco products popularly called ‘Khaini’ under the brand ‘Chaini Khaini’. The petitioner alleged that the company is involved in a series of illegal activities including surrogate advertisement which violates Article 13 of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) ratified by India on 5 February 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. It alleged that the company advertises the product (Chaini Khaini) in such a manner which gives an impression to the general masses that it is an herbal product that is beneficial to their health.
Further, the Advocates Gaurav Kumar and Vaibhav Gupta, appearing for the petitioner informed the court that various children under the age of fourteen years have been working with the respondent company for manufacturing, packaging, selling and advertising tobacco product under the brand name of ‘Chaini Khaini’. The petition urged 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 rehabilitative measures.