Court order against ‘obscene’ condom packaging suspended

September 22nd, 2008 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday suspended a Madras High Court order banning marketing of condoms with “obscene” packaging.A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan suspended the July 24 order of the Madurai bench of the high court on a lawsuit by state enterprise Hindustan Latex Limited.

The bench, which also included Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J.M. Panchal also issued notices to C. Ravikumar of Madurai on whose plea the high court had banned marketing of condemns in obscene packages.

On Ravikuamr’s plea, the high court, erroneously presuming that the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) was a government body, had directed it to ensure that no Indian condom manufacturer would market its product in obscene packs or promote them through advertisements with obscene pictures.

“We make it very clear that unless the Council certifies that the standards of advertising in packages of condoms marketed by their manufacturers are compatible with the constitutional norm of preserving our cultural heritage and the prevailing laws, the condom manufacturers cannot market their products indiscriminately and in a fashion, which would dilute the composite heritage of our rich culture,” the high court had ruled.

The apex court bench, however, issued notices also to the central government and the Tamil Nadu government, seeking their replies to Hindustan Latex’s plea.

In its petition, Hindustan Latex, which had 15.1 percent share in India’s condom market in 2006-07, said it had adopted a policy to promote the usage of condoms by drawing the potential user’s attention through attractive advertisements and packaging of the product.

This has resulted in remarkable increase in its sales, said the firm, which also produces various other healthcare products like blood collection bags, disposable syringes and vaccines.

The firm also pointed out to the court that the ASCI is not a statutory body of the government.

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