Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Mumbai: In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court has held that no TV channel or actor must propagate advertisements to sell certain religious items with a claim that the product could enhance the lives of human beings. The high court has held that any TV channel, company or actor found promoting any such products would be prosecuted for cheating as well as under provisions of the Black Magic Act.

The two-judge bench of Justices Tanaji Nalawade and Mukund Sewlikar said it was every citizen's fundamental duty to develop a scientific temperament. This spirit of inquiry and reform, in turn, needs to be read into the Black Magic Act.

"It can be said that though basic education is available to everybody in the state, the scientific temper and the spirit of inquiry and reform are not yet developed. Even many educated persons are attracted to mantra-tantra, black magic," the bench noted, adding that this has resulted in exploitation of the gullible by so-called Babas, who sell articles by giving them enticing names like Yantra, Ganda etc and endow them with miraculous properties.

The bench was seized with a writ petition seeking a declaration that telecast of such advertisements would be illegal and attract the provisions of the Black Magic Act. The petitioner had made respondents actors like Ronit Roy, Anup Jalota, Mukesh Khanna and Manoj Kumar; singer Anuradha Paudwal along with several TV channels. The petition took exception to the ads that showed a 'yantra' ascribed to Lord Hanuman, which the makers claimed had "supernatural" powers and, if purchased, would enhance prosperity.

"Extracting money by selling articles like Hanuman Chalisa Yantra, which is like a pendant, is covered by the provisions of the Black Magic Act. The properties of this Yantra mentioned in the advertisement claim that it is special, miraculous and supernatural. This court has no hesitation to hold that it is not possible for the seller to prove that such a Yantra really has any such qualities," reads the judgement authored by Justice Nalawade.

"A direction is hereby given to the state and the Union government to create cells in Mumbai to see that no such ads are telecast on TV channels in Maharashtra. The state is hereby directed to ensure that the telecast of such advertisement on TV channels is stopped," the judges concluded.

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