Smokers beware: SC clears decks for ban on smoking from Oct 2

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New Delhi, Sep 29 (UNI) Smokers beware - the Supreme Court today cleared the decks for implementation of ban on smoking in public places with effect from October 2, 2008.

A bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi rejected the prayer of the four writ petitioners of the Delhi High Court for interim stay against the enforcement of Anti-Smoking Rules 2008.

The judges also transferred all the four writ petitions pending in Delhi High Court to the Supreme Court.

The apex court also directed that no court in the country will pass any order on any other petition which may be filed by anybody in any High Court against the implementation of the ban on smoking in public places which is going to be enforced from the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Earlier, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam contended that at least one million people die every year in the country due to passive smoking which is the cause of lung cancer.

The ban will be applicable to all public places which includes auditoriums, health centres, hospitals, educational institutions, amusement centres, restaurants and private offices as well as open spaces around these places.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, Arun Jaitley and Ruington Nariman appearing for the Indian Tobacco Company and others contended that the impugned rules which were notified in August, 2008, were way beyond the provisions of the parent act and will encourage Inspector Raj in the country.

Every violator of the ban will have to pay a fine of Rs 200 and any inspector like excise inspector, income tax inspector and the head of a private institution can impose the fine.

The apex court in its order said,'' We have given our anxious thoughts to the entire issue. We are of the opinion that it is not a fit case for grant of interim relief and therefore the prayer for staying of implementation of rules 2008 is hereby rejected.'' The respondents will file their counter affidavit within three weeks and rejoinder shall be filed with two weeks thereafter, and the matter will be listed for hearing on November 18,2008.

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