The Bombay High Court turned down a plea filed by Jain religious charitable trusts seeking to outlaw such marketing on Monday, noting that it is up to the viewer to decide whether to see non-vegetarian food commercials on television and in publications. Instead, the court questioned the petitioners about their attempts to infringe on others’ rights in violation of Article 19 of the Constitution.
The court can only get involved if the rights of citizens are violated, according to a division bench that included Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar.
During the hearing, the counsel for the petitioners said they were seeking directions to the Union ministry of information and broadcasting, the Maharashtra government, the Press Council of India, the food, civil supplies and consumer protection department and the Advertisement Standards Council of India to restrict such advertisements across print, electronic and other media.
The petition claimed that these advertisements “intimidated” children to consume non-vegetarian food and infringed on a vegetarian’s fundamental right to live peacefully. Referring to the fundamental duty to be compassionate towards living creatures, the petition further claimed that such advertisements promoted cruelty meted out to other living beings.
“It is the fundamental right of everyone in this country to live with dignity, free from exploitation. However, the impugned advertisements exploit the mind of children and youngsters by provoking, promoting and intimidating to consume non-vegetarian foods,” the petition stated.
The bench however, remarked: “What about violation of Article 19 of the Constitution (of others)? Why are you encroaching on the rights of others?… An ordinary man would say switch off the TV (if unwilling to see the advertisements).”
You are asking the court to set rules and guidelines to outlaw something, the judge stated after the petitioners stressed that they were not against the sale or consumption of non-vegetarian cuisine. Is it a matter that the court has the authority to decide, or does the legislature have that authority?
The petitioners then claimed that the PIL required to include a few references and asked the bench for permission to drop it.