Apex court seeks Mahesh Bhatt’s view on smoking in films

April 2nd, 2009 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Anbumani Ramadoss New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday sought noted film director Mahesh Bhatt’s view on a government lawsuit for scrapping a Delhi High Court ruling that allowed cigarette smoking scenes in films for the sake of art.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam sought Bhatt’s response on the central government’s lawsuit and sent him aotice for it.

Earlier on a suit by Bhatt, the Delhi High Court had given its thumbs up to on-screen smoking and junked a government order that banned smoking scenes in films together with smoking in public places.

The high court had endorsed on-screen smoking on the ground that it was part of artistic expression and banning it would amount to violation of the fundamental rights of speech and expression.

The government, in turn, challenged the high court ruling in February, contending that allowing on-screen smoking would “glamorise” it and make youngsters fall prey to the health hazard.

The ban on smoking scenes was imposed by the government in 2006 under the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.

Banning on-screen smoking was the brain-wave of former health minister Anbumani Ramadoss.

The health ministry in its petition has cited several grounds to challenge the high court verdict.

The government has contended that the high court quashed the anti-smoking rules despite holding the legislation itself legally valid.

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