UTV Challenges I and B Ministry’s directive on non-smoking scrolls in films

New Delhi: Delhi High Court on Monday sent notices to the Information and Broadcasting and Health Ministries and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) following a petition by the producers of the Bollywood film Heroine.

The petition by UTV Software Communication, which has produced the Kareena Kapoor-starrer (slated for release on 21 September), has challenged the I&B Ministry for imposing the mandatory condition of displaying a "static" anti-smoking message during smoking scenes in the film.

Justice Rajiv Shakdhar sought responses of the respondents by 10 September and directed the CBFC to watch the film and file its report in a sealed cover before the next date of hearing.

The petitioner sought quashing of the I&B ministry‘s 2 August letter imposing the condition on filmmakers to display the "static" anti-smoking message during smoking scenes.

The petitioner has urged that the CBFC should issue the certificate for the release of the film without any conditions.

The filmmaker said that the I&B Ministry has in its letter issued on 2 August requested the CBFC to advise filmmakers to ensure "a 20-second anti-smoking message as approved by the Health Ministry with voice over of the actors who are seen smoking in the film to be displayed at the beginning and in the middle (after interval) of the film."

The ministry had issued the letter pursuant to its 27 October 2011 notification in terms of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply) Rules.

The petitioner alleged that in addition to this, the ministry imposed another condition: that "a static anti-smoking message be displayed for the duration of smoking scene in the film", and urged the court to get these conditions removed as it will distract the audience from the main script.

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