Pictorial warning on tobacco products: High Court seeks Centre's reply

There has been an ongoing debate about the size of the pictorial warning on cigarettes packets.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the Centre's response on a plea seeking quashing of notifications issued by the Health Ministry on printing 85 per cent pictorial warnings on tobacco products.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath issued notice to the government asking it to respond by May 18 on the plea filed by Dharampal Satyapal Ltd and others seeking quashing of two notifications of October 15, 2014 and September 24, 2015 issued by the ministry.

The petition alleged these two notifications were in "complete contradiction and inconsistent with Legal Metrology (Packages Commodities) Rules, 2011".

"The impugned notification regarding amendment to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (packaging and labeling) Rules, 2008 (COTPA) envisages modification to increase the size of specified health warning from the current size of 40 per cent to 85 per cent of the principal display area of the package of tobacco products," the plea said.

It also said tobacco products were governed by the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011 framed under Legal Metrology Act 2009, which lays down certain information with specifications which were to be mandatorily declared in the packages of tobacco under the rules.

"... If the specified health warning occupying 85 per cent of the principal display panel is printed on both the sides of the packaging by the manufacturer, there will not be any space left to declare the mandatory declarations under the Legal

Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011... inviting penalty/prosecution and entailing seizure of the goods and imposition of penalty," it claimed.

It also claimed that committee on subordinate legislation, in its final report, has strongly recommended that the warning on cigarettes packets should be 50 per cent on both sides instead of the 85 per cent as mandated by the notification.

The petition further sought a direction to the government to restrain it from taking any regulatory or coercive action with respect to pictorial warning on packaging of tobacco products.

( Source : PTI )
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