The petition further said while the government is committed to tackling the problem of tobacco and its ill.
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has allowed a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by doctors from Tata Memorial Hospital against the government and state-run insurers, including Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), for holding shares in cigarette makers, including ITC Ltd.
The petition, which will come up for hearing on Thursday, has made the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and five state-run life insurance companies as party in the petition for investing in tobacco companies.
On Monday, the advocate on behalf of the petitioners drew the attention of the division bench, Chief Justice Dr. Manjula Chellur and Justice G.S. Kulkarni, to the fact that the LIC, which offered insurance policies to the masses, was using the sum collected from insurers to fund cigarette manufacturing companies. This is against the World Health Organisation (WHO) convention on tobacco control.
The petition further said while the government is committed to tackling the problem of tobacco and its ill, the insurance companies, in complete disregard to government policy, continue to invest in ITC.
The petitioners’ advocate also stressed on the fact that one of the insurance companies had a 83 per cent stake in a tobacco company, which was unacceptable.
The main petitioners are Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, surgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital; Ashish Deshmukh, member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly; Sumitra Pednekar, widow of former Maharashtra minister Satish Pednekar; Abhay Bang, director of Education, Action and Research in Community Health; and P.C. Gupta, director of the Healis-Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health.