SC Declines Interim Order on Pictorial Warnings on Cigarette Packs

Karnataka HC quashed the regulation that tobacco products must carry warning covering 85% of package area.

2 min read
<p>Image used for representational purposes.&nbsp;</p>

The Supreme Court declines interim orders on question of pictorial warnings on cigarette packets, asks Karnataka High Court to upload it's judgement which had quashed the government regulation that packets of tobacco products must carry pictorial warning covering 85 percent of packaging space.

The Court added that, 'urgency in the matter is understandable, but no decision till judgment is available.' Next hearing is on 8 January.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul considered the submission for urgent hearing on the appeals filed against the high court verdict.

Several petitions, including the one filed by NGO Health for Millions Trust have challenged the high court verdict.

The high court had, on 15 December, struck down the 2014 amendment rules that mandated pictorial health warnings to cover 85 percent of tobacco product packaging space, holding that they violated Constitutional norms.

The high court had, however, made it clear that the 40 percent pictorial health warning rule, which existed prior to the amendment rules, would remain in force.

Passing its orders, the high court had held that the Union Health Ministry does not have any jurisdictional power to make such rules.

From the perspective of tobacco growers, such a rule violated the Right To Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution because there was no connection between the images and the warnings, the high court had observed.

The petitioners argued the rules were impractical and would boost smuggling of imported cigarettes.

The tobacco industry had said there was no evidence to show smoking causes the diseases depicted in the “extremely gruesome and unreasonable” pictures.

The bench observed that the rules cannot be made to scare people but to issue notifications.

The industry also said the global average size for graphic health warnings (GHWs) was only about 30 percent of the principal display area.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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