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The Delhi High Court today dismissed a petition seeking to quash the blanket ban on condom advertisements on television between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
While dismissing the petition, a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar observed that a policy on the issue was already in place. It further remarked that it would be “slow” in giving directions to the Government in matters of policy.
The petitioner, Sarita Barpanda, had asserted that the Central Government’s December 11, 2017 decision to ban condom advertisements on television between the times of 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM was arbitrary, without just cause and rationale and based on an unfounded characterization of condom advertisements.
The petitioner stated that fixing of such time limit for condom advertisements was done without any legal provision as the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 did not contemplate designating particular times for the telecast of advertisements which are deemed in violation of the rules.
The petitioner also disputed the rationale behind the ban that condom advertisements are “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive” and hence inappropriate for viewing by children.
Instead of promoting “interest in unhealthy practices”, the advertisements would create awareness of condom usage amongst adolescents and children, prioritize bodily autonomy, promote safe sex practices, address unwanted pregnancy, avoid sexually transmitted diseases and infections, the petitioner asserted.
It was further claimed that there was no academic research which proved or justified that the advertisements of condoms could be indecent/inappropriate for viewing by children.
The petitioner thus suggested that rather than banning all advertisements of condoms for 16 hours a day, specific guidelines be issued to advertisers on the form of condom advertisements.
The petitioner had also suggested setting up of a committee or advisory board to review condom advertisements on a case-by-case basis in order to separate advertisements that are educational and encourage positive awareness of healthy safe sex practices amongst consenting adults, from advertisements that are overtly sexualised.
The petition was filed through advocates Deepak Kumar Singh and Sneha Mukherjee.