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Health Dept directed to proceed against Dhanush’s film company over tobacco ad
The Madras High Court directed the Health Department to proceed against Dhanush’s film production company for violating the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulations of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.
Holding that implementation of the Act was lacking, Justice SM Subramaniam issued orders to the government to sensitise the authorities to exercise vigil over such illegalities and irregularities.
Admitting a plea moved by S Cyril Alexander, State convener, Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control (TNPFTC), seeking a direction to the State government to prosecute Dhanush’s Wunderbar Films for violating various sections of the Act in its film Velaiyilla Pattathari, the judge directed the authorities to proceed with all further actions in continuation of the legal notice issued by the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.
The judge further ordered the government to ensure that a competent committee constituted under Section 25 of the Act functioned continuously and the vacancies were filled up immediately without causing any delay. “The complaints, information provided to the competent committee are responded swiftly and actions are initiated without causing any undue delay under the provisions of the Act,” the court directed the government.
The petitioner said the advertisements of the film prominently carried the picture of the lead actor (Dhanush) smoking, with heaps of smoke emanating from his mouth. This is a violation punishable under Section 5 of the 2003 Act, and also Rule 9 (2) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulations of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Rules, 2004, as amended in 2011, the petitioner submitted.
However, appearing for the production company, senior counsel PS Raman argued that the writ petition was not maintainable as it was already dismissed by a division bench.
Rejecting this contention, the judge said that the division bench’s order could not bar the petitioner from raising the allegations by way of filing a writ petition regarding the complaint filed by him.
Government advocate MKD Muhilan submitted that subsequent to the petitioner’s representation against such scenes, the State government had sent a legal notice to the film production company. ‘The government had sent a notice to the offender. We have initiated action in accordance with the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, and issued notice,” Muhilan said, adding that further action was not continued due to the pendency of the writ petition.