Court declines to hear Bhatt's plea against health message

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Monday declined to hear film maker Mahesh Bhatt's plea to quash a notification that all films will have to screen a mandatory "health message" in the beginning and middle of the films showing use of tobacco products.

A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice V.K. Jain refused to entertain the plea, saying that a similar matter is pending before the Supreme Court.

"When the matter is pending before the Supreme Court, how can we also keep it pending? We are not inclined to entertain this petition."

The Sep 21, 2012 notification of health ministry said that an anti-tobacco health spots of minimum 30 seconds shall be displayed at the beginning and middle of the films displaying tobacco products or their use.

As per the notification: "Also, an audio-visual disclaimer of minimum 20 seconds on the ill-effects of tobacco use shall be displayed at the beginning and middle of the films displaying tobacco products or their use."

The notification also involves the requirement of strong editorial justification for any film displaying tobacco.

"....the health spots and disclaimers, the films showing use of the tobacco products shall also be required to display an anti-tobacco health warning in the form of a static message during the period of display of the tobacco products or their use in the films," as per the notification.

The notification issued on Sep 11, 2012 came into force from Oct 2.

Bhatt's petition said that the impugned notification is "irrational, unconstitutional, illegal, and if permitted to be implemented shall result in serious miscarriage of justice".

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