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Don't sponsor world meet, court tells Tobacco Board

Staff Reporter

A Bangalore-based NGO says it is a violation of WHO norms


India is a signatory to WHO convention on tobacco control

Board asked to take back money spent on the event


BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the Tobacco Board to withdraw sponsorship to the Global Tobacco Networking Forum 2010 slated to be held in Bangalore from October 2 to 8, 2010.

A Division Bench comprising Justice D.V. Shylendra Kumar and Justice H.S. Kempanna passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition by the Institute of Public Health, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), challenging the action of the Tobacco Board in sponsoring a tobacco event.

The Bangalore-based NGO had dragged the Tobacco Board to court stating that it violated World Health Organisation (WHO) norms. The NGO said the WHO framework convention on tobacco control was adopted on May 21, 2003 and it came into force on February 27, 2005. It said India ratified the treaty in February 2004 and as per the guidelines it was not supposed to support or sponsor any tobacco-related event. Moreover, government participation violates Article 5.3 of the guidelines of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control.

It said the board's sponsorship with the meet violated Section 5 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.

On its part, the board said it had spent Rs. 3,26,620 to meet the expenditure on transport for the delegates to visit the tobacco-growing areas and auction platforms in Karnataka.

The Bench, in its order, asked the board to take back the amount it had spent on the event. It asked the NGO to deposit Rs. 25,000 with the court on two weeks to show its bona fides. “There are certain aspects of the case which needs to be probed. If we are satisfied with it, the amount will be returned”, it said.

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