Tobacco Institute of India v. Union of India

The Union of India and Health For Millions filed an interim application seeking vacation of the High Court’s December 4, 2015 stay (and January 6, 2016 modification) of a 2014 Ministry of Health notification establishing pack warnings on 85% of both sides of tobacco product packaging.  They alleged that a May 2009 Supreme Court order in a pack warnings matter (W.P. 549/2008) still pending before the Supreme Court directed that no court in India may pass orders inconsistent with the May 2009 order and that this May order was not considered in the High Court’s December 4, 2015 ruling.  The Karnataka Beedi Association and others maintained that the May 2009 Supreme Court order pertains to implementation of the 2008 pack warning rules and not the October 2014 rules.  They argued that the order thus cannot be relied upon in this matter.  Noting, among other things, that Health For Millions has filed an application for rigorous enforcement of the 2014 rules in W.P. 549/2008, the court observed that the May 2009 Supreme Court order is applicable to the writ petitions in the Karnataka High Court as issues relating to both the 2008 and 2014 rules are before the Supreme Court.  For this reason, the court held that the December 4, 2015 stay of the 2014 pack warnings rules must be lifted.  The Karnataka Beedi Association and others appealed, arguing that the constitutional validity of neither the 2008 nor the 2014 rules was at issue in the Supreme Court.  Instead, they maintain that the Supreme Court was adjudicating a writ of mandamus for the rules’ implementation.  Accordingly, the association argues that the high court must review the constitutional validity of the rules.  The high court disagreed and upheld the judge’s order lifting the stay.  The court also invited the association to approach the Supreme Court for further clarity so that the court can proceed further in these matters.