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COSMETICS and drugs will continue to be sold without symbols to indicate ingredients of non- vegetarian origin with the industry finally winning a 12- year- long litigation ending in the Supreme Court.

A bench comprising justices G. S. Singhvi and M. J. Mukhopadhyay set aside a November 13, 2002 Delhi High Court order directing a red symbol be printed on the package of a cosmetic or a drug having ingredients of non- vegetarian origin and green symbol on products containing ingredients of purely vegetarian origin.

The order, which exempted life- saving drugs, had come on a PIL filed by Ozair Husain and others seeking disclosures on the nature of such products citing the right to know under Article 19( 1)( a), the right to life under Article 21 and the freedom of conscience and the right to profess a religion under Article 25.

The Indian Soaps and Toiletries Makers Association and the central government had approached the Supreme Court in appeal against the high court judgment ordering disclosures like in the case of food products. Apart from red and green symbols, the high court had also directed a declaration in writing on the package indicating the nature of the origin of the products. It had asked the government to issue a list of life- saving drugs for which no symbol was required.

Allowing the appeals, the Supreme Court said the high court had no jurisdiction to issue such directions. The issue had already been considered by the central government and it was referred to the Drug Technical Advisory Board which had rejected the suggestion in 1999, it pointed out.

The high court, however, had held that information was necessary to enable a person practice the beliefs and opinions he held. " In case a vegetarian consumer does not know the ingredients of cosmetics, drugs or food products which he/ she wishes to buy, it will be difficult for him or her to practice vegetarianism," the court said.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Mar 11, 2013
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