The Supreme Court on Tuesday made absolute its January 8 order granting an interim stay on the Karnataka High Court judgment dated December 15, 2017 striking down the 2014 amendment to the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling Rules) of 2008.
Rule 3(1)(b) of Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling Rules) of 2008 as amended in 2014, necessitates that the statutory health warning, to be printed on packages of cigarettes, pan masala, and other tobacco products, shall cover at least 85% of the principal display area, constituting an increase from the earlier mandate of 40%. The Rule requires 60% of the space to be devoted towards the pictorial depiction of mouth, throat and lung cancer and 25% to textual health warning.
Subsequently, some Tobacco companies had approached the Karnataka High Court during the pendency of the proceedings at the Apex Court to question the new set of images introduced in April on the premise that the Supreme Court has not granted leave in the matter and that the stay Order issued on January 8 was not absolute. This aspect was brought to the notice of the Bench on Tuesday by Senior Advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the Health for Millions Trust, and Advocate Aishwarya Bhati.
In the light of these submissions, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A. M. Khanwilkar made the interim Order absolute and also granted leave to the Appeal. This stay shall be operative until the final disposal of the case and no high court shall be permitted to interfere with the Graphic Health Warnings on Tobacco packs.
Earlier, on July 16, the bench had refused to stay the Health Ministry notification bringing into force the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Second Amendment Rules, 2018 from September 1.
The Amendment Rules stipulate two images depicting the manifestation of cancer, as specified health warning, to appear on the package consecutively during the rotation period, with an interregnum period of twelve months.
By way of the Textual Health Warning for smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco products, they provide for the phrase “TOBACCO CAUSES CANCER” and the phrase “TOBACCO CAUSES PAINFUL DEATH” to be displayed in white font colour on a red background, and the words “QUIT TODAY CALL 1800-11-2356” to be printed in white font colour on a black background.