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Heroes, villains can smoke again

The Delhi HC has quashed the the ministry of health’s 2005 notification banning smoking scenes, saying it violated film-makers' fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, reports Harish V Nair.How it all started

india Updated: Jan 24, 2009 10:37 IST
Harish V. Nair
Harish V. Nair
Hindustan Times

Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan can again blow rings of smoke on celluloid.

The Delhi High court on Friday struck down the ministry of health’s 2005 notification banning smoking scenes. How it all started

The court said the ban violated a filmmaker’s right to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19.

“Directors should not have multifarious authorities breathing down their necks. A film must reflect the realities of life. Smoking is a reality of life. It may be undesirable but it exists and is not banned by law,” Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said.

The 50-year-old judge had stood up for freedom of expression last year too. On May 10, 2008, he quashed proceedings against artist M F Husain, accused of hurting religious sentiments by painting nudes of Hindu deities.

Earlier, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss had asked Bachchan and Khan to stop smoking on the screen, saying that it encouraged fans to pick up the habit.

The order came on a petition filed by director Mahesh Bhatt questioning the validity of a notification under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act.

First Published: Jan 23, 2009 13:08 IST