Delhi: The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has sent notices to Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Ajay Devgan about surrogate Gutkha advertising. The Union of India has notified the Allahabad High Court of this.
In response to a contempt plea filed for failing to follow the High Court’s September 2022 order in a PIL plea directing the central government authorities to address the grievance raised concerning the participation of certain Padma awardees in a “misleading” Gutka advertisement, the submission was made before a bench of Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan.
For background, the order dated September 20, 2022, was issued by the High Court in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the petitioner-in-person, Moti Lal Yadav (Avocate). The plea asked for the Central Consumer Protection Authority of India to be directed to take appropriate action against the private respondents, which included Pan Masala Companies and Bollywood actors, Shahrukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Ajay Devgan, by imposing penalties in accordance with Section 21 (2) of the Act, 2019.
The petitioner claimed in the contempt case that despite following the HC’s directive and approaching the Cabinet Secretary of the Government of India on October 15, 2022, the Central Consumer Protection Authority did not make a decision about his representation.
The High Court requested comments from Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) Secretary Nidhi Khare and Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba in August of this year.
Deputy Solicitor General of India SB Pandey told the court at the matter’s hearing on Friday that the Apex Court will probably decide the case and that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must form a special bench to handle similar cases.
He also asked the court to postpone the current contempt petition’s proceedings in light of this submission. Additionally, he stated that Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgan, and Akshay Kumar are among the Padma awardees who have received letters from the Central Consumer Protection Authority.
The court was also informed by him that Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who received a Padma award and is one of the respondents in the contempt plea, has served a legal notice to a “Pan Masala Brand” for using him in commercials even after the contract was terminated.
Finally, it was also argued that all necessary and relevant exercises had been carried out, and that following the Apex Court’s order, if any, appropriate action would be taken in accordance with that order, and appropriate orders might also be issued in accordance with that order.
It should be mentioned that the Union of India has previously notified the HC that the CCPA has sent notifications for surrogate advertising to the Pan Masala enterprises, namely Vimal Pan Masala, Kamla Pasand, and Pan Bahar.
The Court postponed the hearing of the contempt petition for five months and scheduled the matter for hearing on May 9, 2024, after taking into account the Deputy Solicitor General of India’s submissions and the petitioner-avocat Moti Lal Yadav’s position that he is only concerned that appropriate guidelines be formulated in the matter and, therefore, he has no objection if the contempt proceedings are delayed.
As a result, the Court ordered that the petitioner-advocate and the Union of India’s legal representatives provide the court with an update on the current state of any Supreme Court proceedings on the following date.
The Division Bench of the High Court has been deliberating on these orders in relation to the petitioner’s Public Interest Litigation (PIL), therefore the Court further asked them to furnish information regarding any steps taken in line with the orders already issued by the Apex Court.
The Court further stated that the decision regarding this contempt petition may be made in light of any developments mentioned above as well as any applicable orders from the Apex Court.