Plea seeking removal of alcoholic products adverts: Delhi High Court issues notice

  • Shruti Kakkar
  • 10:30 AM, 05 May 2021

The Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel & Justice Jasmeet Singh on Monday issued notice in a plea preferred by Advocate Dhruv Chawla to remove the advertisements pertaining to alcoholic products since they are patently illegal & violative of legal framework applicable to NCT region. 

It has been argued that the Advertisers for the longest period of time have attempted to circumvent the law by employing numerous tactics in order to advertise their alcoholic products.

Advertising alcoholic beverages has been made illegal in India in furtherance of the directive principle stipulated under Article 47 of the Constitution of India, 1950 which directs the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State to endeavour to bring about prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health.”, the plea states.

The cause of action in the present plea arose when the petitioner came across the hoardings put up by a Beverage Company (“Respondent No 3”) to publicise its alcoholic beverage, Pegasi. The petitioner to rectify the patent error of law, filed a complaint in the Advertising Standard Council to India on March 29, 2021. On March 30, 2021 he also filed an RTI seeking information from the New Delhi Municipal Council as to sanction & permissions given to the Respondent No. 3 for the publishing of the hoardings under their Bye-Laws. He also made a representation to the Hon’ble Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, intimating them of the present scenario. On April 13, 2021 the Respondent No 3 in furtherance of the notice received from the Advertising Standard Council of India modified the said hoardings, however the same were in contravention of the legal provisions. 

The petitioner averred that as a consequence of the said violations, the general public of the NCT region have been consuming such advertisements which have been banned by law makers, thereby sending out a wrong message that provisions of law can be circumvented through illegal means in addition to the impugned advertisements causing health hazards. 

Reference has been made to the Delhi Outdoor Advertisement Policy, 2008 which was drafted under the aegis of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in M.C. Mehta v. Union of India [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 13029/1985]

As per the said policy Clause 4.2. categorically stated that, “ the city agencies may take action to modify or remove any Advertising Device that contravene the Advertising Industry's Code of Ethics. The list of negative advertisements has been provided under the said clause which includes Advertisement promoting drugs, alcohol, cigarette or tobacco items.”- excerpt from the plea.

Further, the petitioner has also contended that liquor companies in India have been finding creative ways to market their products to the public since 1995, irrespective of imposition of a blanket ban on the promotion of alcohol products in traditional media stipulated in the Cable Television Network Rules, 1995 (CTNR). 

Case Title: Dhruv Chawla v. GNCTD| WP(C) 5124/2021