The Supreme Court has stayed Karnataka High Court order reducing size of pictorial warnings on packages of tobacco products to 40% of the package space from earlier 85%. The apex court took decision saying that health of citizen has primacy and emphasised on importance of public health and harmful effects of tobacco products.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in 2014 had amended Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules prescribing mandatory 85% statutory warnings space on both sides of tobacco packaging telling consumers that cigarette smoking and tobacco chewing were harmful to health. These rules were framed under Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.
Karnataka High Court judgment
In December 2017, Karnataka High Court judgment had quashed MoHFW rules that mandated pictorial health warnings to cover 85% of tobacco product packaging space, holding that they violated Constitutional norms. However, it made it clear that 40% pictorial health warning rule, which existed prior to amendment rules, will remain in force.
It had held that rules framed by MoHW in 2014 was violation of the Article 77 (Conduct of Business of Government of India) and Transaction of Business (ToB) rules framed under it as subject of tobacco control and legislation was not attached to one department or Ministry. Moreover, these rules are also contrary to Article 19(1)(g) (right to practise any profession,or to carry on any occupation, trade or business).