Fwd: [karmayog] Govt. conniving with tobacco lobby, norms up in smoke, says SC
Government conniving with tobacco lobby, norms up in smoke, says SC
By Express News Service - NEW DELHI
23rd July 2013 08:17 AM
The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to enforce rules prohibiting the sale of tobacco products at shops that advertise them on hoardings larger than 60 cm by 45 cm.
Quashing a 2005 interim order of the Bombay High Court, which had stayed the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Rules, 2004, the apex court Bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi rapped the Centre for “conniving with the tobacco lobby” to make the interim orders absolute by the non-appearance of its counsel.
The rules, also known as Point of Sale Rules, stipulate that shops selling tobacco products shall display warning messages like “Tobacco Causes Cancer” and “Tobacco Kills”, prominently on boards measuring 20 cm by 15 cm. The message should be displayed in an Indian language. The apex court passed the order on a PIL filed by Health For Millions NGO and advocate Viplav Sharma. The petitioners contended that the legislation, which could prove beneficial for public health, was not implemented since the interim stay order had not been vacated for seven years.
“Millions of people are dying every year. The Union of India did not take steps for vacating the interim order of the High Court. This has huge adverse repercussions on public at large, particularly on the poor and weaker sections of the country who are the largest consumers of tobacco products,” the apex court Bench observed.
Since the matter pertains to policy adjudication, the High Court should not have passed the interim orders, the Bench said. The High Court, however, has the power to go into the vires of the Rules, the Bench felt.
“It is the Centre which connived with the tobacco lobby by non-appearance of an advocate during the hearing at Bombay High Court,” the Bench added. The counsel who was supposed to appear for the Centre had “some other interest”, the Bench contended. As per the statistics provided by the government of India, nearly 10 lakh people die of lung or oral cancer every year.