HC refuses to hear Mahesh Bhatt's plea against notification

Mahesh Bhatt with daughters

The Delhi High Court today refused to hear film-maker Mahesh Bhatt's petition against a health ministry notification making it mandatory to show anti-tobacco messages in the beginning and middle of a film, saying that the apex court has already been seized with a similar plea.

"When the matter is pending before the Supreme Court, how can we also keep it pending? We are not inclined to entertain this petition," a bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain said.

Bhatt had moved the court seeking quashing of the September 21, 2012 notification of Ministry of Health which said that an anti-tobacco health spots of minimum 30 seconds shall be displayed at the beginning and middle of the films displaying tobacco products or their use.

He, in the plea, said the notification, which came into force from October 2, is "irrational, unconstitutional and illegal and if permitted to be implemented shall result in serious miscarriage of justice."

The bench said it cannot entertain the plea as a similar matter is pending with the Supreme Court.

"An audio-visual disclaimer of minimum 20 seconds on the ill-effects of tobacco use shall be displayed at the beginning and middle of the films displaying tobacco products or their use," the notification reads.

The notification also involves the requirement of strong editorial justification for any film displaying tobacco.

"....the health spots and disclaimers, the films showing use of the tobacco products shall also be required to display an anti-tobacco health warning in the form of a static message during the period of display of the tobacco products or their use in the films," the notification said.

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