SC refuses stay notification on tobacco warnings

SC refuses stay notification on tobacco warnings

The bench, however, said the freedom envisaged that there has to be an informed choice.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay a new notification set to make pictorial warning on tobacco products more scary with textual warning and 'quit today call' from September 1.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud declined, for now, a plea for not giving effect to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Second Amendment Rules, 2018, notified on April 3.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing some of the petitioners, including the Karnataka Beedi Industries, contended that the Union government should not be allowed to issue "far more egregious, false and misleading" warning.

He contended that the Karnataka High Court's earlier judgement staying the central government rules on 85% of pictorial warnings was just stayed by the apex court and it did not mean that the whole high court's judgement has been wiped out.

"If the new notification is stayed, no prejudice would be caused to the existing 85% warning regime which continued to operate,” the plea stated.

"There has to be a freedom of choice. If I wish to have a drink, I should be able to. Otherwise, why not close all business? Alcohol, sugar chocolate, everything should be shut," Rohatgi said.

The bench, however, said the freedom envisaged that there has to be an informed choice.

"Then can it be said if you eat choclates, you run the risk of being diabetic, which would lead to glucoma," Rohatgi retorted.

On this, the bench said, "Your analysis is wrong. If you have diabetes, you should abstain from chocolates."

The court, however, said it would consider the matter and fixed the application, along with the pending special leave petitions filed by Cancer Patients Aid Association and others, for hearing in the first week of August.

The Karnataka High Court had on December 15, 2017 stayed the notification for 85% pictorial warning on tobacco products and revived the previous fiat for 40% warning. But the apex court, subsequently, stayed the high court's order.

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