HC notice on promoting liquor brands during IPL

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the central government, the Indian cricket board and Sony entertainment channel on a petition alleging that the IPL platform was being used for "promoting liquor brands" and the same was blatantly aired by the TV channel.

A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Jayant Nath sought response in this regard from the union home ministry, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Sony entertainment channel and also asked the Delhi government's excise department to file a response by Aug 14.

The public interest litigation (PIL), filed by advocate Asif Khan Wednesday, said the central government had allowed airing of the cricket event wherein a blatant abuse of the platform is being adopted to promote liquor of various brands and companies in complete violation of the Cable Television Networks Act and the Rules.

The central government has failed to discharge its duties to ensure that such violations are curbed, it said.

Sony, which had the exclusive rights to telecast all the IPL matches has "violated the provisions of the law by telecasting such matches which promote or advertise directly, indirectly or by surrogate manner various brands of alcohol", the plea submitted.

The PIL alleged that the promotion of liquor brands were being promoted under the garb of cricket and various other evils in the society are being allowed to flourish and survive openly and without any action from the authorities.

"During the event, even the jerseys of so many players, umpires coats and caps, hoardings, back screens and boundary walls, among others, all bear a clear and unambiguous promotion and advertisement of brands of alcohol and it is surprising that such open advertisements has gone unnoticed by the authorities who are organising the events," the plea added.

Filing the petition, Khan sought directions for the central government to formulate a policy whereby all channel operators and associations who are promoting an event undertake to not to telecast or advertise any brand which is concerned with selling of liquor, alcohol, wine and beer.

Directions be issued to the central government to formulate policy for all channels to ensure that programmes relayed not to flout that the provisions of the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act and the rules, the plea said.

It alleged that no precautions have been taken by the ministry, the BCCI to ensure that the advertisements pertaining to alcohol is not carried out.

"Instead it appears that the respondents, being hand-in-glove, have allowed such malpractices to continue for financial reasons."

The lawyer said the BCCI ought to have ensured that no such advertisement of any such product takes place before, during or after the game which is in violation of the laws of the country.

The petition sought direction by the court to BCCI to heavily penalise all such teams who have directly or indirectly allowed the promotion of alcohol through their hoardings, boundary walls, jerseys, caps, other accessories.

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