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HC Raps Centre Over Tobacco Case

BENGALURU: The High Court on Tuesday expressed its displeasure with the Union government over its lack of representation in a case pertaining to packaging and labelling on tobacco products.

The petitioners comprising tobacco companies, growers and retailers had challenged an amendment order under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008, which mandates that tobacco products must display pictorial warnings of 85 per cent on both sides of the pack. The order is meant to come into effect from April 1. In an earlier order, the High Court had stayed the amendment order.

Two organisations – Health for Millions and Cancer Patient Association – filed impleading applications on Tuesday and sought to vacate the stay order. They stated that an earlier Supreme Court judgment, which had heard a matter pertaining to the 2008 Act mandating 40 per cent of pictorial warnings on packs and upheld it, had given an order stating that an adverse judgment could not be passed by the High Court.

They contended that the present judgment violated that order and hence had to be vacated.

The petitioners, however, contended that the Supreme Court had given the judgment pertaining to a different notification and was not applicable in the present case. The petitioners also contended that the organisations filing impleading applications were third party and if the High Court allowed them to do so, it would set precedence for third parties.

While adjourning the matter, Justice Ravi Malimath sought to know why the Union government was not represented in the case and whether they favoured the petitioners.

“Maybe, the Union government supports private parties. Is the Union government aware that they were also absent in a similar case at the Rajasthan High Court and the Court made serious observations?” he asked.

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