Tobacco pictorial warning: The Supreme Court said it will hear the case on January 8
The Supreme Court today declined to pass an interim stay on a judgement of the Karnataka High Court that struck down
a Union Health Ministry rule, which made it compulsory for makers of tobacco products to show pictorial health warning covering 85 per cent of the product's package.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said the court will hear the case on January 8 since it has not yet seen the judgement of the Karnataka High Court. The top court then told the high court to upload the judgement on its website.
"We are not passing any order as we don't have the benefit of the Karnataka High Court judgement," the two-judge bench of the Supreme Court said.
On December 15, the Karnataka High Court while quashing the 85 per cent rule had said the health ministry does not have jurisdictional power to make the rule; it had also said the rule violated constitutional norms as it puts "unreasonable restriction" on the right to do business.
The Karnataka High Court, however, ruled that tobacco product makers will have to follow the 40 per cent rule -- or pictorial warning covering 40 per cent surface area of the product's package -- which existed before it was made more stringent with the 85 per cent rule via an amendment in the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014.
Some non-profit groups that work for health safety have challenged the Karnataka High Court order.
In May 2016, the Supreme Court had transferred to the Karnataka High Court all petitions filed in other high courts by tobacco product manufacturers and industry lobby groups against the 85 per cent rule.
According to the World Health Organisation's framework convention on tobacco control, which came into force in 2005, pictorial health warning should be "50 per cent or more of the principal display areas but shall be no less than 30 per cent of the principal display areas".
The National Family Health Survey 2015-16 found tobacco consumption in India in 2015-16 fell from a decade ago, but India remained the second-highest producer and consumer