The petition by religious people is listed before the division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav J. Jamdar on Monday, September 26, 2022
A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed before the Bombay High Court by the Jain community seeking restrictions/ ban on the advertisements of meat and meat products in print and electronic media.
Three Jain religious charitable trusts and a citizen of Mumbai who practices Jainism filed the petition. They stated that their families, including their children, are compelled to watch such commercials. Through attorney Gunjan Shah, Shri Trustee Atma Kamal Labdhisurishwarji Jain Gyanmandir Trust, Shri Vardhaman Parivar, Shri Seth Motisha Religious and Charitable Trust, and businessman Jyotindra Shah filed the petition.
The petitioners said that this is a clear infringement of their right to life, to live in peace, and to religious privacy, because it interferes with their ability to do so and “tampers” the children’s minds.
The petition has sought relief in this context from the State, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, the Press Council of India, the Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Protection Department, and the Advertisement Standards Council of India.
Religious People restricted to many Businesses
The petitioners have also designated the businesses Licious, Freshtohome Foods, and Meatigo as respondents. They have requested direction from the relevant authorities to set restrictions on and outlaw non-vegetarian food advertising across all media.
The petitioners claimed that the advertisements are not only unacceptable and cause harassment to the people who believe in being vegetarian, but also infringe on their fundamental right to privacy and to live with human dignity.
In support of its argument, the plea referenced Article 51A(g) of the Constitution, which forbids sympathy for living things as one of our core moral obligations. However, the petition said that meat product marketing promotes and expresses cruelty to living things.
“It is the fundamental right of everyone in this country to live with human dignity free from exploitation, however, the impugned advertisements of non-vegetarian food/ product exploit the mind of children and youngsters by promoting and intimidating to consume non-vegetarian foods,” the plea stated.
The PIL requests a writ of mandamus from the High Court ordering the Centre and state to create and issue regulations, guidelines, and orders restricting and banning advertisements in print, electronic, and online media, including through various websites and other media. Additionally, it asks for directions to print a notice stating “Consumption of non-vegetarian food is damaging to health and the environment” on packed non-vegetarian packets.
Also, a large number of animals, birds, and marine lives are being killed ruthlessly without a little bit of compassion and mercy to supply meat to the consumers, it adds.
The impugned advertisements which display meat, fish, chicken, etc. hurt religious sentiments of the Jain community along with other vegetarian people on seeing non-veg foods which they are forced to see during the said advertisements and such advertisements affect the faith, religion and disturb the peace of people who are from the vegetarian community and consume vegetarian food products.
The PIL states advertisements have a negative impact and are persuading the kids that eating non-vegetarian cuisine is normal and good. Vegetarians and young people fall prey to the catchy and alluring ads for non-vegetarian cuisine.
The PIL states that sales of and advertisements for non-vegetarian food in public places and close to religious sites have been outlawed in Patilana, a Jain pilgrimage site in Gujarat, Mathura, Rishikesh in Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, and lists the measures each of these jurisdictions have taken to enforce the ban. The petition further said that if the public exhibition of non-vegetarian food is prohibited in many states then print advertisement and internet/website ads should also be prohibited.”
“If some people choose to eat non-vegetarian food, they are allowed to do so. However, showing/displaying non-vegetarian food in the homes of vegetarian people is not acceptable and proper and does so in a way that violates their constitutional and fundamental rights,” the PIL reads.
The petitioners said that non-vegetarian meals are unhealthy, harm the environment, and encourage young people to eat them. The government already forbids the advertisement of alcohol and cigarettes.
The argument made it clear that they were only against the promotion of such products, not the sale or consumption of such food.
The petition is listed for hearing before the division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav J. Jamdar on Monday, September 26, 2022.