Another kind of shooting for a bandit queen

Noted film director and producer Mahesh Bhatt Monday moved the Delhi High Court challenging the government notification banning smoking scenes in films and on television.

A division bench comprising Justices Mukul Mudgal and H.R. Malhotra took up the petition for hearing in the post-lunch sitting. But the judges adjourned it for Tuesday when Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra submitted that he was not prepared to argue the matter as he had not gone through the petition.

The bench observed that the matter had to be taken for hearing before Oct 2 as the 'cigarette and other tobacco products prohibition of advertisements and regulation of trade and commerce, production, supply and distribution (amendment rule 2005)' comes into effect on that date.

Then the additional solicitor general requested the court to take up the matter for hearing Tuesday. In the event of the court taking up the matter after the date, the government would have to give an undertaking that the rules would not be implemented till the disposal of the petition, the bench said.

However, Malhotra did not want to give such an undertaking and therefore urged the court to take up the matter Tuesday, and the court allowed it.

In the petition, Bhatt said the amendment rules are ultra vires of the constitution. He urged the court to quash the amendment rule.

The government's move aims to stop new films or TV programmes from portraying smoking and old films to carry warnings. Around 800,000 Indians reportedly die from smoking-related diseases every year.