The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is set to tell the Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday that it is ready to implement the notification mandating larger pictorial warnings on tobacco packets from April 1, 2016 — a full year after it was originally scheduled to have come into effect. The ministry is also in the process of bringing out a notification to this effect.
The notification making it mandatory for all tobacco products to carry 85 per cent warnings on their packets instead of the current 40 per cent was first issued in October 2014, but was never carried out as scheduled because the committee for subordinate legislations of the Lok Sabha had suo motu decided to look into the matter.
In its interim report in March, the committee asked for a deferment of the implementation and the health ministry had immediately complied, though it was not mandatory for it to do so.
However, the ministry landed in a tight spot after activists moved Rajasthan High Court and the court issued an order saying that the original notification should be implemented without delay. The committee’s final report, meanwhile, is still awaited.
In an order passed on July 3, the HC had said: “…we find it imperative, and in the larger public interest, to stay the operation of the corrigendum, notified by the Central Government in the Gazette of India, on 26th March, 2015 by which, sub-rule (2) of Rule 1 was substituted, providing that the Rules shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint, which substituted the provision of Rule 1(2) of the Rules of 2014, to bring the Rules into force with effect from the 1st day of April, 2015. As a result of the interim order, the rules of 2014 will come into force immediately, and will be enforced by the Central Government and the Government of Rajasthan.”
The ministry had earlier demanded six months for implementation. Before the ministry’s counsel appears in Jaipur Tuesday, it is likely, he would be armed with a revised notification mandating April 1 as the date of implementation of bigger warnings, said health ministry sources.