PTI: More than 30 organisations and industry bodies, including Ficci, CII and the Cellular Operators Association of India, have written to the Electronics and IT Ministry (MeitY), urging it not to ban online content related to the Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).
Other major organisations supporting this include Asia Internet Coalition, Broadband India Forum, Internet Freedom Foundation, Data Security Council of India, Heart Care Foundation of India, and The Centre for Internet and Society.
The draft amendment to the intermediary guidelines rules proposes new regulations for intermediaries (digital platforms), including a clause on banning online content that promotes ENDS.
These entities, in a statement on Thursday, said citizens have the right to access information on safer alternatives to smoking. The submissions form part of the 609-page document.
"...(These) organisations have opposed the ban on content related to ENDS citing overstepping of IT ministry's jurisdiction, violation of consumer rights, no legal backing for the action and use of vague terminology that can lead to misinterpretation and overregulation," it added.
Vape refers to electronic cigarettes or similar devices that simulate the experience of smoking a cigarette.
The statement quoted Association of Vapers India Director Samrat Chowdhery as saying that it is encouraging that many organisations concerned with public health have sought removal of the proposed ban on ENDS content.
"India is reeling under a tobacco epidemic which causes nearly a million deaths a year. We stated in our submission that denying people access to information on safer alternatives will, therefore, be highly detrimental and in violation of Article 21 of our constitution," he added.
The Data Security Council of India (DSCI), a Nasscom initiative, said the terms and expressions used are ambiguous and may be deemed unconstitutional.
Amnesty India said it "is concerned that the rules use vague and overly broad terms to identify expression that can be restricted, going well beyond both Indian and international human rights standards on freedom of expression".
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA