The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Karnataka High Court's order that quashed the rules for 85% pictorial warning on tobacco product packets.
A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra stayed the December 15 judgement that had set aside the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Amendment Rules, 2008, reversing the size of pictorial warning on package of tobacco products including of cigarette, to 40 %.
On a plea by Attorney General K K Venugopal and NGO Health for Millions, the bench said, "We are inclined to think that health of a citizen has primacy and he or she should be aware of that which can affect or deteriorate the condition of health. We may hasten to add that deterioration may be a milder word and, therefore, in all possibility the expression "destruction of health" is apposite."
The court rejected a plea by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the some of tobacco companies, that the order may affect their business.
"The pictorial warning up to 85% is not a reasonable restriction and falls foul of Article 19(1)(g) (right to carry on business) of the Constitution," the counsel said.
Sibal said the court may fix the size of the pictorial warning at 50% and, hear the matter.
Venugopal, however, opposed it saying a decision was taken by the rule-making authority fixing the percentage taking into consideration the prospects of health hazard of the citizens on the basis of expert opinion. The court fixed the matter for further hearing on March 12.