The Bombay High Court Monday dismissed as withdrawn a PIL filed by Jain charitable trusts seeking a restriction or ban on the advertisement for non-vegetarian food in print and electronic media. The high court asked the petitioners why they were seeking to encroach on others’ rights.
After the petitioners sought to withdraw the plea in view of past Supreme Court decisions, the division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav J Jamdar allowed them to file a fresh petition with better particulars and dismissed the present PIL as withdrawn.
Among the petitioners were Shree Atma Kamal Labdhisurishwarji Jain Gyanrnandir Trust, Sheth Motisha Religious and Charitable Trust, Shri Vardhaman Parivar, and Mumbai businessman Jyotindra Ramniklal Shah. They had filed the PIL, saying such promotions are a violation of the right to live in peace and the right to privacy. They also claimed their families, including children, are forced to watch such ads and these ads affect the minds of these children.
The PIL sought directions to respondents, including the State Government and its Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Department, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Press Council of India, Advertisement Standards Council of India, and private meat companies owning the brands like Licious.
The plea also sought directions to the authorities to frame and issue guidelines to restrict and ban ads of non-vegetarian foods across media as they not only disturb and cause harassment to people who believe in being vegetarian, but also infringe on their right to privacy.
It claimed while Article 51A (g) of the Constitution provides for compassion towards living creatures as one of the fundamental duties, these ads promote cruelty towards them. The petition further said there is a ban on advertising alcohol and there are certain restrictions while advertising cigarettes by the government. “Non-vegetarian foods are not healthy, cause damage to the environment and instigate youngsters to consume them,” they also claimed.
The petitioners said they are not opposed to the sale and consumption of non-vegetarian food but their grievance is only against the advertisement of such items.
The bench said the issues raised in PIL fall within the domain of the legislature and the court cannot frame law or rules imposing a ban. It said the high court can intervene in case of infringement of any right. “Here are two ways of looking at it, an ordinary man would say switch off the TV. But we would look at it from the point of law. What you are asking has to be provided by law, here there is no such law which is why you are asking us to frame the law,” said the bench.
It also said that the petitioner was effectively encroaching on the rights of others by seeking a ban. “What about violation of Article 19 (Right to life with personal liberty) of the Constitution? Why are you encroaching on others’ rights? There are two ways of looking at it. An ordinary man would say switch off the TV. But we would look at it from the point of law. What you are asking has to be provided by law, here there is no such law which is why you are asking us to frame the law,” it added.
After the petitioners sought to amend the plea stating that some other relevant documents have not been annexed to the petition, the bench allowed them to withdraw the plea and granted liberty to file a fresh petition. “The petition is dismissed as withdrawn,” the bench held.