HC rejects plea against restriction on airing condom ads

HC rejects plea against restriction on airing condom ads

In picture: A still from actress Sunny Leone's condom advertisement. Photo via Twitter.

The Rajasthan High Court has dismissed a plea challenging the Centre's order allowing the airing of condom advertisements only after 10 PM and rebuked the petitioner NGO for "proxy litigation", observing that the "obscene" ads were only aimed at promoting condoms as "instruments of pleasure" and not for contraceptive use.

The court was unimpressed by the arguments of the counsel for the NGO, Global Alliance for Human Rights, Prateek Kasliwal, who contended that the order of the Information and Broadcasting ministry is a restriction on the business of the condom industry and will have a deteriorating effect on the awareness mission of the NGO which is working to combat AIDS.

"This country has grown from 45 crore population post-Independence to over 1.3 billion as of now. Where were you and the condom campaign to prevent population explosion?" a bench of Justices Gopal Krishan Vyas and G R Moolchandani said.

"You are not concerned with the use of condom as a contraceptive but for preventing STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). We fail to understand what's wrong if the obscene advertisements in the name of condoms are regulated and allowed only between 10 PM and 6 AM," it said.

The bench came down heavily on the NGO saying, "you are not espousing your cause but the cause of someone else. We don't appreciate proxy litigation."

"The advertisements are so obscene that one cannot watch them in Indian social structure with their family. What to say about (the contention of) giving a message for using the condom as a contraceptive. Companies are promoting it (condom) as pleasure instruments," the court said

The bench dismissed the petition on Monday, holding that the advisory issued to regulate the telecast of advertisement of condoms was well within the purview of the authorities

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had in an advisory to all television channels in December last year asked them to restrict condom advertisements to late night between 10 PM and 6 AM.

The ministry had said that it was brought to its notice that some channels carry advertisements of condoms repeatedly which are said to be indecent, especially for children.

It had referred to Rule 7 (7) of the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994, which says, "No advertisement which endangers the safety of children or creates in them any interest in unhealthy practices or shows them begging or in an undignified or indecent manner shall not be carried in the cable service"

It had also cited Rule 7 (8) which states that "indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment shall be avoided in all advertisements".

TV channels are hereby advised not to telecast the advertisements of condoms, which are for a particular age group, and could be indecent/inappropriate for viewing by children, the advisory read.