Supreme Court issues new order staying Bombay HC order on Point of Sale advertising
The Supreme Court in a major decision on 3rd Jan, 2013 has paved the way for the implementation of Point of Sale rules of tobacco products, which were stuck for the last seven years.

The beginning of the year has started off very positively for tobacco control advocates. A significant step has been taken towards restricting tobacco companies from advertising blatantly at Point of Sale across the whole of India.

POS Rules under Section 5 of COTPA were not being implemented, owing to a seven year-old stay order passed by the Bombay High Court. This non-implementation of the rules specifying the size and manner of advertisements at the point of sale of tobacco products, notified vide the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Rules, 2004, G.S.R. No. 137, dated 25.02.2004, subsequently amended by the Rules, 2005, G.S.R. No. 345(E), dated 31.05.2005 was a major roadblock for civil society and public health advocates.

As part of its legal advocacy efforts, HFM Trust filed a Special Leave Petition, HEALTH for MILLIONS Vs. UNION OF INDIA & ORS, SLP No. 22186-22187, in the Supreme Court seeking stay of the Bombay High Court order.

The appeal came up for hearing on 3 Jan 2013. As an outcome the Court observed that:
  • In view of the interim orders passed by the High Court, the Central Government has not been able to implement the rules which were framed for implementing the law enacted in larger public interest.
  • What is most surprising is that even though an application was filed on behalf of the Union of India on 13.10.2006 for vacating the interim order, the same has not been listed for consideration for six years. This is evident from reply dated 24.09.2012 given by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India in response to the application filed by the petitioner under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • Since the issue raised by the petitioner is of substantial public importance, we deem it proper to entertain the special leave petition. Issue notice on the petitioner's prayer for interim relief also. In the meanwhile, operation of orders dated 19.12.2005 and 27.03.2006 passed by the Bombay High Court shall remain stayed.".
This order has removed an obstacle in the way of the Ministry to implement the POS Rules and paved the way for implementing them in letter and spirit.

click here for SC order on tobacco advt

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