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Rajasthan HC issues notice to MIB over condom ads ban

A petition filed by Global Alliance for Human Rights has pleaded for quashing of the advisory and also seeks directions for preparing suitable guidelines for advertising condoms

Rajasthan High Court has issued notice to the central government on a petition challenging the advisory issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting banning condom advertisements on television during day hours.

Also read: Commentary: ASCI approaching government for condom ads ban is deplorable

The petition was filed by Global Alliance for Human Rights which has been working for the welfare of HIV positive patients since 2012. The petition has pleaded for quashing of the advisory and also seeks directions for preparing suitable guidelines for advertising condoms.

MIB had advised all TV channels not to telecast the advertisements of condoms which are for a particular age group and could be indecent/inappropriate for viewing by children. In its advisory the ministry had said that such advertisements may be telecast between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM to avoid exposure of such material to children and to ensure strict adherence to the provisions contained in the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994. “Any failure will attract action as per provisions of the Rules,” warned the ministry.

However, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), which suggested the ban on condom ads during day hours, clarified later saying that condom advertisements meant for family viewing, which disseminate health benefits or propagate information on safe sex practices, the implementation of which can diminish accidental pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) / HIV continue to be allowed to air without restriction.

Considering the lack of any mechanism or censor board to certify an advertisement as decent, the ban is considered as a blanket ban on the category as no broadcaster would take a risk to air the condom ad.

The petition contended that the advisory, which asserts such ads to be “indecent, especially for children”, is violative of Articles 14 and 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. It submits that the time for broadcasting the advertisement between 10pm to 6 am has been specified “without any reasonable explanation”, asserting that the same has neglected the present circumstances where usage of condoms still remains low in rural areas of the country.

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