HC rejects traders' plea to sell tobacco near schools, colleges
New Delhi: A plea against the ban on sale of tobacco products within a radius of 100 yards from educational institutions in the city has been dismissed by the Delhi High Court.
Dismissing the plea of city's wholesale tobacco traders, Naya Bans Sarv Vyapar Association, a bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also imposed a cost of Rs 20,000 on them payable to both Centre and the Delhi government.
"The sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products near educational institution has the potential of attracting students. Thereof, a ban on it will definitely reduce the access to tobacco. The benefits from the said prohibition far outweigh the harm or loss to the handful of whole-sellers.”
"We therefore dismiss these petitions with costs of Rs 20,000 each payable to the Union of India and Delhi government respectively and to be utilised in appropriate anti-tobacco initiatives," the bench said.
Rejecting traders' argument that the presence of tobacco and tobacco products within the prohibited area would not affect students of educational institutions, the court said, "We, applying the precautionary principle, would rather err on the side of the society at large than on the side of a handful of members of the petitioner."
"The presence of whole-sellers of tobacco and tobacco products within the prohibited radius would definitely expose the students of educational institutions to the sight and also probably the aroma of tobacco...."
The bench also rejected the petitioner's argument that the law, by not differentiating between retailers and the wholesale traders of tobacco and tobacco products, has arbitrary violated the traders' right of livelihood.
The association of the wholesale traders of tobacco and tobacco products had challenged the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement & Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) and of the Delhi Prohibition of Smoking and Non-smokers Health Protection Act (Prohibition Act) respectively, to the extent they prohibit even wholesale of cigarettes and other tobacco products within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution.