This policy brief examines the law on health warnings in India and the future of tobacco packaging legislation.
This is a report of Karnataka Level Workshop and Consultation with researchers and experts on public health and tobacco control laws conducted on May 23rd 2016.
This Booklet explores litigation on tobacco vis a vis public health.
CLPR will hold a State-level consultation in order to get inputs from various stakeholders interested in the removal of tobacco subsidies. These stakeholders include representatives from civil society and public health NGOs, academia and community organisers.
The article is about a Public Interest Litigation filed in the High Court of Karnataka, Bangalore on the pitiable state of the government hospitals in Bangalore which are short of doctors, beds and equipment, thereby raising pertinent questions about public health being a right for people. The court, however, has taken up this issue quite seriously and this is very essential given the state of government hospitals now. One hopes that more pressure is applied to ensure quality in public healthcare because this is a basic constitutional right in a welfare state.
In 2013, the Supreme Court passed an order categorically stating that no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card and warned that only persons entitled to the card under the law should have it. In 2015, the Supreme Court passed a judgment which, among other things, directed the government to ‘give wide publicity in electronic and print media that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card.’ Despite these orders, Aadhaar has been linked to every aspect of people’s lives. While there has been much opposition to the invasion of privacy by the Aadhaar scheme, the systemic denial of basic entitlements to the most vulnerable citizens has not been highlighted with the same vigour.
The Counsel began by explaining that, as on 28th September 2015, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) had stated that the impugned 2014 Amendment Rules would come into force on the 1st of April 2016. After the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation (PCSL) gave its Final Report against the implementation of the impugned 85% health warnings, the Counsel submitted that the MHFW should have rescinded its notification.
The Counsel argued that the Preamble to the COTPA indicates the intention to enact a comprehensive law to prohibit the advertising of tobacco products and does not contemplate any prohibition on the sale of tobacco products.
In continuation of the arguments on behalf of the bidi manufacturers, Mr. Raghavan sought to argue that for bidi manufacturers, it was impossible and impracticable to comply with the 2014 amendment rules and to that extent, these rules were violative of his right to trade and business guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
Today, the Counsel for the Tobacco Institute of India commenced his arguments. He mainly argued that there was lack of adherence to pre-consultative and procedural processes for bringing the impugned Rules into force.
Day 10 saw the Counsel for the Tobacco Institute of India continue his arguments, challenging the 2014 Amendment Rules as being arbitrary and ultra vires the parent Act.
On Day 9, the Counsel for the Tobacco Institute of India continued his arguments. The arguments focused on the 2014 Rules. Citing Rule 3(1)(b) juxtaposed with Section 7(4) read with Section 20 of COTPA, the Counsel argued that the Rules had the effect of amending Section 7(4).
On Day 8, the Counsel for the Tobacco Institute of India continued with his submissions. He indicated, at first, that an independent argument would be made by the Petitioners for the Beedi Manufacturers Association, on Article 19 (1) (g), relating to the freedom of trade.
Day 7 saw the continuation of arguments by the Counsel for the Tobacco Institute of India, which focused on Article 21 and whether the 2014 Rules exceed its mandate as against the provisions of the parent Act, namely COTPA.
The Counsel for the Tobacco Institute of India continued with his arguments on Day 6 of the hearing before the Karnataka High Court. The Counsel began by referring to a constitutional challenge to pictorial health warnings that were imposed on tobacco products, in the United States in the case of R.J. Reynolds v. FDA. The petitioners, in this case before the Trial Court (No. 11–1482, 2012 WL 653828) and consequently, the Court of Appeal [No. 11-5332 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 24, 2012)], sought to have this mandatory imposition declared as constituting “compelled speech”.
The hearing before the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court continued on Day 5 as the counsel for the Tobacco Institute of India cited decisions of the Indian and the US Supreme Courts, in support of the existence of a right to commercial speech within the ambit of Article 19(1)(a). The arguments on this day, focused mainly on proving that the petitioner’s right to commercial speech is being curtailed by the impugned rules notified by the Government which excessively restrict the ability to advertise on the packaging of tobacco products.
One of the other arguments made today by the Petitioners was alleging lack of legislative competence of the Central Government to enact the COTPA and promote it as a public health measure since the same is a state subject. It also argued that the Supreme Court held in Ghodavat Pan Masala case that COTPA is not a legislation for the furtherance of public health. This argument will be explored in subsequent proceedings before the High Court.
The main arguments made today were that the packaging and labeling rules of 2008 and the 2014 amendments to these rules are ultra vires Article 19(1)(a), which guarantees free speech and Article 19(1)(g), which guarantees the right to freedom of trade.
CLPR is representing the Consortium for Tobacco Free Karnataka as an Intervenor on the grounds of public health. Starting today, we are reporting the summary of arguments taking place every day in court in these matters. A report of the court proceedings would not only serve as information for the public health community in the country to be aware and upto date with these proceedings, but also to document the arguments made in these petitions as these proceedings are one of the most important ones in the field of tobacco and public health in the country today.
The thrust of Day 2’s arguments by the Petitioners was on highlighting how the 2014 amendment to the 2008 Packaging and Labelling rules was an act of excessive delegated legislation. He referred to Tobacco Board Act, 1975 and, the now repealed Cigarettes (Regulation of Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act, 1975. The counsel made a submission that they were mainly aggrieved by the rules and therefore, they would focus mostly on pointing out the lack of constitutionality of the rules and the fact that it was an act of delegated legislation rather than focusing on the constitutionality of the act per se.’
After India ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which came into force in 2008, there was a clear need to overhaul the existing disability laws in India to bring them in compliance with the UNCRPD. It is in pursuance of this that the Mental Health Act 1987 (“MHA”) is sought to be replaced the new Mental Health Care Bill 2012 (“2012 Bill”). This is a brief overview of the 2012 Bill.
India currently does not have any specific laws for the implementation of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which deals with the protection of public health policies with respect to tobacco control, from commercial and other vested interest of the tobacco industry.
In this article, the author calls for the implementation of internationally accepted guidelines to protect public health policies from being influenced by the vested interests of the tobacco industry. This article was written with reference to Rules that made it mandatory for health warnings to cover 85% of the total display area on packages of tobacco products. The author suggests several proactive measures to address conflicts of interest.
In this article, Jayna Kothari and Aparna Ravi highlight the conflicts of interest between the government and the tobacco industry and note how the intervention of the tobacco industry led to the indefinite suspension of the proposed tobacco packaging rules by the Indian Government. The new rules mandate that warnings should cover up to 85% of the cigarette packaging. The halt in implementation indicates the industry’s influence on government policy making and the serious implications this can have on public health. The article concludes that immediate steps need to be taken to isolate the tobacco industry from the Government’s policy-making wing.
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The op-ed criticizes the Union Government’s decision to put a hold on the amendments to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008 which sought to increase the size of health warnings from the current 40% to 85% of the packets’ surface area.
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A rapid growth in urban populations has led to a growing and increasingly unsustainable demand for housing in cities. In several cases, governments have resorted to regularisation of illegal constructions. The Karnataka government re-introduced such a scheme by making statutory amendments in 2015 whereby owners of illegal constructions could get them regularised on payment of a fee. This scheme will have disastrous consequences for town-planning and development across the state.
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