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Court Serves Legal Notices to these Bollywood actors for Alleged Violation in Endorsing Tobacco Products

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The Allahabad court has issued legal notices to Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, and Akshay Kumar, citing their involvement with a tobacco brand. The Central Consumer Protection Authority is initiating legal action against them for endorsing tobacco products. A hearing is set for May 9, 2024. Another petition raises concerns about celebrities, including ‘Padma Award’ recipients, endorsing potentially harmful products, prompting additional scrutiny.

Court Serves Legal Notices to these Bollywood actors for Alleged Violation in Endorsing Tobacco Products

The story behind the legal notices involves Bollywood actors and their association with tobacco endorsements

The legal notices involving Bollywood actors and their association with tobacco endorsements stem from a response to a contempt petition. The Central government informed the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad Court that notices had been issued to actors Akshay Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, and Ajay Devgn for their advertisements promoting gutka companies.

Also Read: Akshay Kumar Faces Backlash For Appearing In Vimal Ad Again Despite Prior Apology –

Responding to a contempt petition, the Centre’s counsel informed the High Court that the Supreme Court was already hearing a similar issue, suggesting dismissal of the current petition. The bench scheduled the hearing for May 9, 2024, following these submissions.

Earlier, Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan had directed the central government to address a petitioner’s representation, expressing concern about actors and dignitaries, including ‘Padma Award’ recipients, endorsing gutka companies despite health risks.

Additionally, the court learned that Amitabh Bachchan had sent a legal notice to a gutka company still displaying his advertisement after the contract termination. The representation to the government on October 22, followed by a contempt petition, prompted the High Court to issue notice to the Cabinet Secretary of the central government.

In India, direct advertising of gutka or tobacco-related products is prohibited due to health risks. Companies, however, employ surrogate advertising to promote gutka brands through seemingly unrelated products. Advocate Motilal Yadav filed a petition expressing concerns about celebrities endorsing products with health risks.

In August 2023, the court issued notices to the Cabinet Secretary, Chief Commissioner, and Central Consumer Protection Authority. The plea sought contempt action for alleged non-compliance with the September 2022 order. The Deputy Solicitor General informed the bench that show-cause notices were sent to the actors on October 20, but the petitioner argued that no action was taken despite representation to the government.

In response to the petition, the High Court served a notice to the Cabinet Secretary. On Friday, Deputy Solicitor General SB Pandey informed the High Court that show-cause notices had been issued to Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, and Ajay Devgn. Previously, Amitabh Bachchan had taken legal action against a tobacco company for displaying his advertisement post-contract termination.

Also Read: When Marketing Meets Reality: The Truth About Celebrity Endorsements

Conclusion

In the unfolding legal drama involving Bollywood icons Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, and Akshay Kumar, the spotlight is on the intricate web of celebrity endorsements, tobacco advertising, and the regulatory challenges that persist. As the court scrutinizes the actors’ involvement in promoting gutka companies, the proceedings bring attention to the widespread use of surrogate advertising, a method employed to indirectly endorse tobacco products, thus sidestepping existing regulations.

The case also underscores broader ethical questions regarding celebrity endorsements, particularly when adorned with prestigious awards. With the hearing scheduled for May 9, 2024, there’s anticipation that the legal outcome may shape future regulations, providing clarity on the responsibilities of public figures and closing gaps exploited by companies engaged in controversial advertising practices. The Bollywood tobacco endorsement saga serves as a pivotal moment for societal reflection on the intersection of fame, corporate influence, and public health concerns.

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