Published on: September 27, 2022 at 19:53 IST
On Monday, the Bombay High Court rejected a public interest litigation (PIL) plea submitted by Jain organisations seeking limitations or a ban on meat and meat-related marketing in print and electronic media.
The matter is under the purview of the legislature, and it cannot create laws or rules that impose bans, according to a bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar.
“First of all, tell us is it within our jurisdiction? You are asking High Court to frame rules and guidelines to ban something. It is for the legislature to decide,” the bench remarked.
The bench further stated that as a High Court, we may only get involved when someone else’s rights are being violated.
The bench further stated that by requesting such a prohibition, the petitioner was infringing upon the rights of others.
“What about violation of Article 19 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,” the Court said.
The petitioners asked for permission to change their plea, claiming that key orders crucial to the matter were not attached to the petition.
The Court then permitted the petitioner to withdraw the plea, adding that if they so choose, they may submit a new petition.
Three Jain charitable trusts and a Mumbai resident who practices Jainism filed the lawsuit, alleging that their family, including their children, are compelled to view such commercials.
The petitioners said that this violates their right to live in peace and “tampers” with the minds of the kids.
The petition requested assistance from the State, the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Department, the Press Council of India, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, and the Advertisement Standards Council of India.
The petitioners also named the businesses Licious, Freshtohome Foods, and Meatigo as respondents in addition to these.
They requested guidance from the relevant authorities on how to create and publish regulations that would limit and outlaw non-vegetarian food advertisements across all media.
The petitioners asserted that the advertising violates their fundamental right to privacy by both unsettling and harassing those who identify as vegetarians.
In support of its argument, the plea referenced Article 51A(g) of the Constitution, which lists compassion for all living things as one of our essential moral obligations.
However, the petition said that meat product marketing promotes and expresses cruelty to living things.
“It Is the fundamental right of everyone in this country to live with human dignity free from exploitation, however, the impugned advertisements exploit the mind of children and youngsters by provoking, promoting and intimidating to consume non-vegetarian foods,” the plea highlighted.
The government already forbids the advertisement of alcohol and tobacco, and the petitioners said that non-vegetarian meals are similarly unhealthy, harm the environment, and encourage young people to consume them.
The argument made it clear that they were only against the promotion of such products, not the sale or consumption of such food.