The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought additional information in support of a PIL seeking reliefs including a direction to the Centre for framing "stringent" guidelines to ban surrogate commercials to promote liquor and various tobacco brands in print and electronic media.
"You (petitioner) please file a better affidavit along with supporting documents," a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said. The bench was hearing a PIL filed by social activist Teena Sharma, who has been raising issues relating to media and film certifications.
"In India surrogate advertisement is done mainly in the tobacco and liquor industry. This is because the advertising of these products has been explicitly banned as they are considered to be products that put adverse effect on the mind of the consumers and lead them to use substances that have an addictive effect and create discomfort for members of the general public who do not prefer using these substances," the PIL, filed through lawyer Rahul Raj Malik, said.
It claimed that these surrogate commercials are being shown and published in violation of various existing laws.
"To issue appropriate writ/direction to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to frame stringent guidelines in relation to surrogate advertisements laying out action to be taken against offenders and repeat offenders found to be violating the Advertisement Code as defined in Rule 7 of The Cable and Network Rules, 1994 which will be made available to the Public at large by means of electronic and print media," one of the prayers of the plea said.
It also sought a "thorough court-monitored" probe by the SIT or the CBI into the "violations and illegalities" committed by advertisers, officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Central Board for Film Certification in facilitating broadcast of such commercials.
These commercials use a product of a "fairly close category like club soda, or mineral water in case of alcohol or products of a completely different category like music CD's, playing cards etc to relate the brand name of the principal/main product with another, only for the purpose of raising its recall value".