Setback to tobacco lobby?
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Nov 3: The Assam Health (Prohibition of Manufacturing, Advertisement, Trade, Storage, Distribution, Sale and Consumption of Zarda, Gutkha, Panmasala, etc, containing Tobacco) Act, 2013, is yet to be implemented. When the bill was passed by the State Assembly in 2013, it generated positive response among the public but the tobacco lobby was up in arms over it.
Allegedly backed by tobacco companies, some petitioners moved the Gauhati High Court and the Supreme Court against the Act. However, they have now suffered a major setback at the apex court. Recently, the Supreme Court disposed of the case, stating that a similar issue is pending at the Gauhati High Court.
Hearing the writ petition no 383/2014 (Udai Chaurasia & Ors VS State of Assam), the apex court, in its judgment said that the Gauhati High Court will do the needful for disposal of the matter and also asked the High Court to expedite the hearing of Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1583/2014, so that the matter may be decided within three months time.
The Supreme Court also said, “We clarify that we have not considered this petition on merits and we are disposing of this petition simply because similar issue is pending in the High Court.”
It may be mentioned that under the Assam Health (Prohibition of Manufacturing, Advertisement, Trade, Storage, Distribution, Sale and Consumption of Zarda, Gutkha, Panmasala, etc, containing Tobacco) Act, 2013, anyone found consuming smokeless tobacco was supposed to be punished with a fine of up to Rs 1,000 for the first offence and Rs 2,000 for the second and any subsequent offence or offences. In case of offence committed by a company, the company as well as every person who at the time of the commission of offence is in charge of and responsible for the conduct of the company’s business, was supposed to be deemed to be guilty of the offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.