A controversy has erupted over the use of Mahatma Gandhi’s name and image by Swiss luxury giant Mont Blanc for a Rs 11.3 lakh pen since the apostle of peace was known for simplicity throughout his life.
The limited edition ‘Gandhi’ pen was launched by the Mahatma’s nephew, Tushar Gandhi, on September 29.
But two days later, the Kerala High Court admitted a public interest litigation challenging the marketing of the luxury pens in India while issuing notices to Mont Blanc International, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affair and others.
The petitioner, Dijo Kapen contended the attempt to manufacture and market luxury pens in the name of the Mahatma was wrong, illegal and liable to be prohibited. Under the Emblems and Names Act, the name or pictorial representation of Gandhi as an item cannot be used for the purpose of any trade or business, he said.
Kapen contended making Gandhi the symbol of a Rs 11.3 lakh pen was nothing but an attempt to cause degeneration of everything he symbolised.
Tushar Gandhi has expressed surprise at those opposing the venture and said the Mahatma’s image has been used in advertising for long.
“I am surprised that they (the people who are opposing it) have woken up so late. Gandhi’s image has been used in advertising for long,” he said.
Asked about the PIL citing the Emblems Act, he said, “I am very much aware of this law, and in fact many times, when Gandhi’s name was used in commercial products, I raised the issue with government. But In Montblanc's case, I don’t think they have violated the law. Using Gandhi’s name in a way that honours him doesn’t violate Indian laws.”