Jain Bodies Move Bombay HC Seeking Ban on Non-veg Food Ads

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Three Jain religious bodies and a Mumbai resident have moved the Bombay High Court seeking a ban on advertisements of non-vegetarian food items in any media, saying it was an “utter violation of the right to live in peace”. The PIL filed before the court stated that showing or displaying such promotionals in vegetarian households was an infringement of constitutional and fundamental rights.

Not only this, the petition also calls for companies selling non-vegetarian food to print a warning on their packaging stating: “Consumption of non-vegetarian food is harmful to health and environment”, according to a report by Live Law. It stated while people are free to eat non-veg food, those who practised vegetarianism were being “forced” to watch these advertisements “without their consent”.

The matter will come up for hearing on Monday before a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav J Jamdar. The PIL has been filed by three Jain religious charitable trusts – Shree Atma Kamal Labdhi Surishwarji Jain Gyanmandir Trust, Sheth Motisha Religious and Charitable Trust, Shree Vardhman Parivar – as well as businessman Jyotindra Ramniklal Shah.

“If some people want to eat non-vegetarian foods, they are free to do the same but showing/displaying the non-vegetarian foods in the houses of the people who are vegetarian is not good and proper and the same affects their constitutional and fundamental rights,” the report quotes the petition.

In another report by Bar and Bench, companies owning online brands, such as Licious and FreshtoHome, have been made respondents in the PIL along with the central and state governments as well as Advertising Standards Council of India.

The petitioners claimed that their families are forced to watch such advertisements that then “tamper” with the minds of their children. The report stated that the petition asked the court to direct authorities to frame rules or guidelines to ban advertisements promoting non-veg food items or products.

“Advertisement of non-vegetarian foods is gravely unconstitutional as it violates Article 21, which provides the rights to life including the right to protect a person’s tradition, culture, heritage, and all that gives meaning to a man’s life,” the PIL is quoted as saying in the Live Law report.

The petition also states that the advertisers are expressing and promoting “cruelty towards birds, animals, and marine life”, which violates the Article 51A(g) of the Constitution. Such advertisements can cause harm to the environment leading to degradation and depletion of natural resources, it adds.

To back its claims, the petitioners have cited action taken by civic bodies and government in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. These states have restricted sale and display or advertisement of non-veg food items at certain locations, including religious places such as Mathura, Rishikesh and Patilana (a Jain pilgrim site in Gujarat).

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