On Wednesday, the Supreme Court told tobacco companies to include bigger warning on the cigarette packs.
Earlier, only 20% of the pack used to contain the health warnings, but as per the new rule, now 85% of the pack will be filled with the serious health warnings.
The Supreme Court turned down a plea to stay implementation of the new rules introduced from April 1st, but agreed to move the rest of the appeals to the Karnataka court.
"You have duty towards the society. The industry should not violate any rule prevailing as of today," the judges told a team of industry lawyers.
The Supreme Court further directed Karnataka’s high court to hear several pleas filed against the new rules in several Indian courts and then make a decision within 6 weeks.
Till the Karnataka court’s judgment, it is not clear, whether the industry would comply to the new rules or sell old stock.
Also read: Ban on gutkha for another year
Last month, when the rules came into force, the industry protested shutting down factories for days. Even the country’s traditional hand-rolled cigarette makers joined the protest.
On April 1, 2015, the rules were supposed to come into force, but were delayed. Including Thailand, the rules make India’s health warnings on tobacco products the world's most stringent. According to BMJ Global Health, smoking kills more than 1 million people a year in the country. The WHO says, annually tobacco-related diseases cost India $16 billion.
Ranjit Kumar, solicitor general of India, told the court that the federal government was committed to the new rules and opposes any stay on their implementation.
By Phani Ch