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Delhi High Court Pulls Up Lawyer For Filing PIL To Ban Display Of ‘Gross Images’ In Anti-Tobacco Ads

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday expressed displeasure with a young lawyer who filed a PIL seeking prohibition on the display of anti-tobacco advertisements containing “graphic or gross images” during films in cinemas, TV or OTT platforms. A single judge had previously dismissed the PIL, terming it “gross misuse of process of law”, following which the lawyer approached the division bench.

While hearing the challenge against the single judge order, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna orally said that the lawyer needs a “course correction” and that what is being shown in the advertisements is “actual reality.”

“Let’s attribute some IQ to everyone….Do not argue too much. This is a matter which calls for a firm hand to be used. It is absolute misuse of PIL to the core and that too by a lawyer. He needs a course correction,” the bench told the senior counsel appearing for the lawyer.

It added: “If this is the path he intends to follow in the future, then it is not a good future for him. We are trying to help him by speaking our mind candidly.”

The court then asked the lawyer to submit an affidavit of regret within two days after which it will expunge the observations made by the single judge.

The bench also said that it agreed with the view of the single judge and that the PIL filed by the lawyer was a “sponsored litigation.”

“He must give an affidavit of regret and then we will expunge the observations. Absolute regret is required in this matter. Government of India for a change is trying to do something and you are trying to ensure that it does not happen, that too by using a PIL for that purpose..This no doubt is a sponsored litigation…Since he is a member of the bar, let him express regret. Come back in two days,” the bench said.

The court also interacted with the lawyer who was appearing in person along with the senior counsel and told him that he should have a course correction.

“Please have a course correction. It is not proper, too early in the day to start like this….What they are showing is actual reality,” the bench told the lawyer.

The matter will now be heard on December 07.

While dismissing the PIL, a single judge bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad observed that the graphic description given in the Government issued advertisements are meant to be “eye-openers for the people” to not use tobacco and tobacco products and therefore, is in public interest.

Calling the plea a gross misuse of process of law, the court had dismissed the petition in September and said that it was restraining itself from making any comments on the lawyer which might have a bearing on his future.

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