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Government seeks to curb industry rights

30 Jan 2018. The government has asked the country’s top court to apply a classification to tobacco that would remove the industry’s legal right to trade and make it easier for regulators to apply restrictions to tobacco, Reuters reported.

The government asked the Supreme Court to classify tobacco as “res extra commercium”, Reuters reported, citing previously unreported court documents dated 8 Jan. A doctrine that translates to “outside commerce”, the classification would deny the tobacco industry’s legal right to trade and allow authorities more leeway to impose restrictions on the industry, Reuters said.

The doctrine from Roman law paved the way for some Indian states to completely ban alcohol in the 1970s. Government lawyer R. Balasubramanian, who is acting for the Ministry of Health in pursuing the classification, was quoted as saying “The effects of tobacco are much more than even alcohol … it would be a fillip to this drive against tobacco.” Reuters reported that Balasubramanian said the government is seeking to curb the tobacco industry’s legal rights, not ban tobacco outright.