The Bombay high court on Tuesday issued notices to the ministry of health and family welfare, ministry of information and technology and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). They have been asked to reply by March 5 on a petition filed by filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, challenging the rules under the Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Act. The rules make it compulsory for filmmakers to crop or mask scenes depicting tobacco or its products.
Kashyap moved court after the CBFC refused to grant certification for his film Ugly as he refused to adhere to the Act. The filmmaker claimed that the imposition of the rules is in violation of his fundamental rights under Article 19 (right to speech and expression) and Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
His petition claims that two notifications issued in 2006 and 2012 by the authorities making amendments in the Act and rule 4 (7) and rule 8 of the Cigarettes and Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production Supply and Distribution Amendment Rules), 2012, need to be quashed as they are unconstitutional.
The petition notes that depiction or display of a character using cigarette or tobacco does not attract the audience’s attention specifically to the product. It is not intended to promote the sale of the products and doesn’t amount to advertising, it said.
The petition prays that impugned notifications be quashed and set aside, directions be given to the CBFC to certify the film and allow its release without insisting on compliance of the rules.
Kashyap, who has directed the film, applied for certification on September, 19, 2013, along with a letter stating he didn’t wish to have the anti-smoking message displayed during the film as it’s a gross violation of his creative expression and fundamental rights. The CBFC then said no certificate will be issued unless the rules are complied with.