MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni was on Tuesday informed that the Maharashtra government won't take any 'drastic step' against the tobacco products manufacturers at present. The state said that it is not contemplating anything of this sort, at least at the present stage.
Notably, the bench had in an earlier hearing sought to know from the state government about the impact of smoking on Covid patients and if it worsens the condition of a patient.
Subsequently, the state through advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had submitted a report prepared by Dr Rajendra Badwe, of the Tata Memorial Center, which stated that smokers are more prone to getting infected with Covid-19. The report even stated that smoking worsens the condition of a Covid patient since it affects the lungs.
However, on Tuesday, two associations - Mumbai Beedi Tambakhu Vyapari Sangh and the Federation of Retailers Association - through senior advocates Kevic Setalvad and Ravi Kadam, respectively, approached the bench seeking to assist the court in the matter.
Kadam told the bench that it shouldn't consider only the report by Dr Badwe as there are several other reports with contradictory findings. "There are research reports from United States, Italy, France and even China which give out a separate finding. These reports conclude that smokers are less prone to getting infected with the virus," Kadam submitted.
The senior advocate further cited a report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) that too concluded that smokers are less prone to getting infected.
Chief Justice Datta, however, pointed out that the CSIR doesn't have any expertise on the issue. "But there are doctors on the board," Kadam responded.
At this, the chief justice pointed out that because smoking is harmful the Union government has ordered the manufacturers to put a disclaimer on the packets of ciggarate stating it is harmful. "Still you (Kadam) consider it is okay?" CJ questioned.
Kadam contested saying, "That is an altogether different issue which isn't being dealt by this court."
Accordingly, the chief justice allowed the intervention applications filed by both the associations saying, "We will hear all of them and decide accordingly as this is one of the most important issues."
Meanwhile, AG Kumbhakoni assured, "This is to put to rest all the apprehensions of these associations that some orders might be passed against them, I say no drastic step would be taken against them, at least at present."
The judges, accordingly adjourned the hearing.