HC lifts smokescreen off newspapers | delhi | Hindustan Times
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HC lifts smokescreen off newspapers

Newspapers and magazines no longer need to mask or crop the brand name or logos of a cigarette or other tobacco products appearing in a photo they plan to print, reports Harish V. Nair.

delhi Updated: Jan 27, 2009 23:02 IST
Harish V. Nair

Newspapers and magazines no longer need to mask or crop the brand name or logos of a cigarette or other tobacco products appearing in a photo they plan to print.

The Delhi High Court, which recently lifted ban on smoking scenes in films, also struck down a health ministry rule that prohibited newspapers from carrying photos displaying cigarettes or other tobacco brands.

Chennai-based publishers Kasturi and Sons had moved the court against a show-cause notice issued by the ministry for printing a photograph in their newspaper, The Hindu, of a Formula One race driver whose jacket carried the logo of a cigarette company. It was construed to be commercial advertisement under Rule 4(8) of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act.

The restriction on newspapers under Rule 4 (8) violated the right to equality and freedom of expression as it created a distinction between the electronic and print media, which was unreasonable, and restricted freedom of press, Justice S.K. Kaul said.

“The gateways provided for the electronic media under rule 4(8) are different from the ones for the print media. Thus, in a Formula One race the electronic media can show a live footage where the winner may be wearing a tobacco brand but the print media can’t show the photograph of a winner in the same form. Such a distinction and the consequent restriction on the print media would be wholly unsustainable,” he said.