For seven years the interim orders issued by the Bombay High Court prevented the implementation of new rules that could have seen restriction of the size and number of ads of tobacco products at retail outlets. However the Supreme Court has now suspended the interim orders, stating that the rules do not infringe on the fundamental rights of the petitioners.
The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra suspended the operation of the high court order on a petition by NGO Health for Million.
Counsel Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the NGO, claimed the high court's order on provisions restricting advertisements of tobacco products had resulted in the non-implementation of a beneficial legislation.
While issuing notice to the central government and five other respondents, the court observed that "there is total frustration of an act framed in public interest".
The court found it surprising that the high court's interim orders had been continuing for seven years.
The high court Dec 19, 2005, and March 27, 2006, granted interim stay of the operation, implementation and effect of Rules 2(c), 2(e), 4, 5(3) and 5(4) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Rules, 2004, and the amended rules of 2005.
The rules says that the size of the board used for the advertisement of the cigarette and other tobacco products at warehouse or retail outlets shall not exceed 90-60 centimetres and the number of such boards shall not exceed two.
The NGO said that the high court failed to appreciate that none of the fundamental rights, violation of which had been alleged by petitioners before it, were in fact violated by the legislation.