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No relief to Anurag Kashyap on plea against anti-smoking disclaimer

The Bombay High Court refused to grant any interim relief to filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who had petitioned the court challenging the notification making mandatory an anti-smoking disclaimer during smoking scenes in a movie.

Under Rule 4(7) and 8 of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, the Union government had written a letter to the Censor Board asking them to make it mandatory for film makers to show the disclaimer during smoking scenes.

Kashyap in his petition sought for the rule to be set aside and quashed as illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional.

The filmmaker had approached the High Court in December 2013, when the Censor Board restrained him from releasing his movie “Ugly” after he refused to comply with the rule that requires for ‘Smoking is injurious to health’ warning to pop up every time a character smokes in the movie.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha, after hearing Kashyap’s lawyers, said no case for interim relief is made out. The bench has, however, allowed the director to make a representation before the Union government seeking modification in the rules.

The court said if such a representation is made then the Union government shall take a decision on it expeditiously.

Kashyap in his petition had said that the rule making it mandatory for such a disclaimer was a gross violation of his creative expression and fundamental rights.

The filmmaker as interim relief sought a direction to Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to permit him to release his movie without the mandatory disclaimer.

The petition noted that a mere depiction or display of a character using cigarette or tobacco, does not attract the attention of audience specifically to the cigarette or tobacco product nor is intended to promote the sale of these products and does not amount to advertising.

Further the film “Ugly” is in the genre of dark cinema which requires the characters to smoke for overall artistic effect.

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