On December 20th, the Rajasthan High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Dinesh Chandra Somani issued notice to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I & B) in a plea praying for quashing the advisory issued by the ministry for constraining the telecast of condom commercials between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am. The petition against the advisory was filed by an NGO Global Alliance for Human Rights, which works for the welfare of patients with HIV and for increasing awareness about AIDS.
The I & B Ministry issued an advisory to all television channels on December 11 stating that advertisement for condoms will only be allowed between 10 pm and 6 am on the ground that it would be “indecent, specially for children”
The petition filed through Advocates Prateek Kasliwal and Divesh Sharma, stated that apart from family planning, condoms can prevent the spread of a host of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
It has also been contended that conservative social norms lead to many people being embarrassed to shop for condoms. The usage of condoms remains low in rural areas of the country as well. In such circumstances, the impugned notification is a draconian action by the ministry. It was argued that the advisory is violative of Article 14 and 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
The petition prays for quashing of the impugned advisory, contending that the action is against the public interest and highlights the hypocritical approach of the Government, which on one hand, promotes family planning and AIDS awareness and on the other, obstructs such dissemination of crucial information.