Should condom-manufacturing companies exercise conservative approach while advertising and packaging their products?
On Monday, the Supreme Court issued notice on petitions filed by three companies including a public sector undertaking (PSU) that have asserted their right to advertise condoms as per their own policy. The bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan also stayed the Madras High Court order that has been challenged through the petitions.
Acting on public interest litigation (PIL), the Madras High Court had on July 24, 2008 directed the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) to certify the standards of advertising in packages of condoms marketed by the respective companies. A division bench had further restrained the companies from marketing their products “indiscriminately” and in a “fashion that would undermine or dilute the composite heritage of our rich culture.”
The Madras High Court gave its order on the PIL filed by C Ravikumar who claimed that on his visit to Thailand he was
“astonished to see there was no obscene picture on the package of Durex condoms.” Ravikumar moved the PIL stating that condom manufacturers in India “gave publicity by printing obscene sexual picture on their packages and sexy publicity in the media.”
The three companies, Hindustan Latex, J K Ansell and TTK-LIG Limited have criticized the high court judgment, stating it has been passed “ in the vaguest of terms.” According to the petitioners the ASCI is not under the control of Government of India. “The High Court has failed to appreciate that the ASCI is, as advertised by the said body itself, a non-statutory NGO,” read the petition.