The Supreme Court stayed the operation of a Karnataka High Court order setting aside 2014 rules mandating that 85 percent space on both sides of packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products carry a pictorial warning on their harmful effects.
Staying the December 15, 2017 order of the Karnataka High Court, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said, "We are inclined to think that health of a citizen has primacy and he or she should be aware of what can affect or deteriorate the condition of health."
Pronouncing the order, Chief Justice Misra said: "We may hasten to add that deterioration may be a milder word and, therefore, in all possibility the expression 'destruction of health' is apposite."
The Central government had, in 2014, amended the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules prescribing that 85 percent space on both sides of the tobacco packaging would be covered with the statutory warnings telling consumers that cigarette smoking and tobacco chewing were harmful to health.
The amended rules came into force from April 1, 2016.
The Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendments Rules, 2014 were framed under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.
Prior to the 2014 amendment of the rules, the pictorial warning was limited to 40 percent space of the packaging and that too on one side only.