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Bombay high court rejects plea seeking ban on non-veg food advertisements

The Bombay high court on Monday turned down a petition seeking a ban on advertising of non-vegetarian food products saying it was an infringement of fundamental rights and a matter of policy that fell within the purview of the legislature.

A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Madhav Jamdar was hearing a PIL filed by three Jain religious bodies and an individual seeking direction to ban advertisements of non-vegetarian food products along the lines of the ban on promotion of alcohol and tobacco products. The petitioners claimed that non vegetarian food leads to environmental damage.

During the hearing, the counsel for the petitioners said they were seeking directions to the Union ministry of information and broadcasting, the Maharashtra government, the Press Council of India, the food, civil supplies and consumer protection department and the Advertisement Standards Council of India to restrict such advertisements across print, electronic and other media.

The petition claimed that these advertisements “intimidated” children to consume non-vegetarian food and infringed on a vegetarian’s fundamental right to live peacefully. Referring to the fundamental duty to be compassionate towards living creatures, the petition further claimed that such advertisements promoted cruelty meted out to other living beings.

“It is the fundamental right of everyone in this country to live with dignity, free from exploitation. However, the impugned advertisements exploit the mind of children and youngsters by provoking, promoting and intimidating to consume non-vegetarian foods,” the petition stated.

The bench however, remarked: “What about violation of Article 19 of the Constitution (of others)? Why are you encroaching on the rights of others?… An ordinary man would say switch off the TV (if unwilling to see the advertisements).”

Further, it said that the petition did not hold any merit on legal grounds either.

“But we would look at it from the point of law. What you are asking has to be provided by law, but there is no such law (imposing a ban on advertisements), and that is why, you are asking us to frame the law.”

After the petitioners clarified that they were not against the sale or consumption of non-vegetarian food, the court said, “You are asking the court to frame rules and guidelines to ban something. Is it within the jurisdiction of the court or is it for the legislature to decide?”

The petitioners then submitted that there were some references that needed to be included in the PIL and sought permission to withdraw it, which the bench



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