Notice to government on smoking scenes in films

Smoking In Bollywood Films
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Friday issued notice to the health and family welfare ministry on film director Mahesh Bhatt’s plea seeking quashing of a notification prohibiting smoking scenes in movies.

Bhatt said that the government’s notification of Sep 27, 2011 was "illegal and arbitrary" and violated his fundamental rights.

A division bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Rajiv Shakdher refused to stay the notification as sought by Bhatt and asked the government to reply by July 11.

Bhatt said: "I am deeply aggrieved by the 2011 amendments as they are not only violation of the freedom of speech and expression but also against the right to carry out profession, trade and business."

"Rules made in exercise of the rule-making power conferred by a particular statute have necessarily to be within the four corner of that statute. The rules cannot make provisions beyond the circumference of the act," the petition said.

Rules were null and void as they were without any jurisdiction and beyond the rule-making power of the central government, it said.

The Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Rules, 2011 had come into effect Nov 14, 2011.

"The said act and rules making power conferred thereunder have no application in the field of production and distribution of cinema and television programme which is covered and governed by the Cinematography Act and rules framed thereunder," said the petition.