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Delhi HC Refused To Entertain Plea Seeking Health Warnings On Liquor Bottles

New Delhi [India]: All liquor bottles already contain health warnings on it according to the excise rules and regulations, the Delhi High Court said on Monday while disposing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking direction to prohibit/control the production, distribution and consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs, which are injurious to health.

Petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had sought direction from the government to publish health warnings on liquor bottles and packages like the health warning signs on cigarette packets, and advertise ‘Health and Environment Hazard’ of intoxicating drinks through the electronic, print and social media in order to secure citizen’s Right To Know, Right To Information, and Right To Health, as guaranteed under the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The petitioner further sought the issuance of direction to the government to carry out a Health Impact Assessment and an Environment Impact Assessment of the production, distribution and consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs in the spirit of Articles 21 and 47.

The Plea stated that Delhi has a total of 280 municipal wards and until 2015, there were only 250 liquor shops i.e. on average, one liquor shop in every ward and 30 wards without a liquor shop. But now the state is planning to open three liquor shops in every ward, which is not only arbitrary and irrational but also offends the rule of law and the Right To Health guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

“Article 47 is nevertheless fundamental in the governance and the State is obligated to prohibit the consumption of liquor and drugs, rather than advertising about health hazards of intoxicating drinks and drugs, the State is promoting liquor consumption,” the petitioner alleged.

The plea further stated that “drinking is ten times more dangerous than smoking but health warning is not used on liquor bottles. All alcohol bottles must carry health warnings alike cigarette packets. These statutory warnings on labels must include requests to consumers to not consume alcohol and drive and outline how alcohol consumption is harmful to health.”

“Apart from the warning, the specific labelling requirements also need a declaration about alcohol content, allergen warning, no nutritional data, no health claim, restriction on words such as ‘non-intoxicating’ or words implying similar meaning on the label of beverage containing more than 0.50 per cent alcohol by volume. But it has been more than 3 years since the regulation came up for all manufacturers to comply with, still, there is no sign of strict and sincere compliance with it. No health warning or proper display of liquor contents has been complied with. FSSAI has proved to be completely incompetent,” it added.

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