COVID 19Law made Easy

As the world is struggling to overcome the mass destruction that deadly COVID-19 disease is causing, India is also scuffling to eradicate and aware the citizens about the effects that spitting in open public spaces leads to.

Spitting in India is as common as that warning sign of “no spitting” at all places possible. Though a number of laws and provisions by the Centre and State have been laid down, yet this particular issue is a major hurdle that our country needs to surpass.

Especially in these times of COVID-19, spitting could be one of the major stumbling block that would only increase the precariousness of this disease and if we as a country could overcome this peril then we could probably be able to move one step ahead in defeating this deadly pandemic.

Laws against Spitting in India

Central Acts & Rules [List is inclusive, not exhaustive]

Spittoons- (1) In every factory there shall be provided a sufficient number of spittoons in convenient places and they shall be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.

(2) The State Government may make rules, prescribing the type and the number of spittoons to be provided and their location in any factory and provide for such further matters relating to their maintenance in a clean and hygienic condition.

(3) No person shall spit within the premises of a factory except in the spittoons provided for the purpose and a notice containing this provision and the penalty for its violation shall be prominently displayed at suitable places in the premises.

(4) Whoever spits in contravention of sub-section (3) shall be punishable with fine not exceeding five rupees.

Rule 3 Clause (b) read with Rule 4

Rule 3 talks about the — Prohibition of activities affecting cleanliness and hygiene in the railway premises

Under the above rule, clause(b) specifically talks about that No Person shall cook, bathe, spit, urinate, defecate , feed animals or birds, repair or wash vehicles , washing utensils or clothes or any other objects or keep any type of storage in any railway premises except in such facilities or conveniences specifically provided for any of these purposes

Further, Rule 4 is the penal provision for violation of the above stated Rule, wherein the Fine would amount to Rupees 500.

What is to be read in the said regulation?

Regulation 98 [sub-rule (2) in specific] 

Now, Regulation 98 specifically talks about “Spittoons”

  1. In every portion of a dock including warehouses and store places, sufficient number of spittoons shall be provided in convenient places and they shall be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.
  2. No person shall spit in the dock area except in the spittoons provided for the purpose and a notice containing this provision shall be prominently displayed at suitable places.
  3. Whoever spits in contravention of sub-regulation (2) shall be punishable with a fine not exceeding one hundred rupees.
  4. The spittoons shall be of an approved type.
  5. The spittoons shall be emptied, cleaned and disinfected at least once in every day.

State Acts

Almost every State has similar provisions against the menace of spitting in public in their Municipal Acts. Similar anti-spitting provisions are also noticed in Police Acts of various States. However, a few States also have specific Acts prohibiting/penalising spitting in public. Again, the following list is inclusive, not exhaustive.

  • Kerala Prisons and Correctional Services (Management) Act, 2010 : Section 81(9) r/w Section 82 Madhya Pradesh Public Health Act, 1949
  • Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 : Section 441 r/w Sections 471, 472
  • Orissa Urban Police Act, 2003 : Sections 80 [clause (c) to be specific], 83 r/w Section 84
  • T.N. Prohibition of Smoking and Spitting Act, 2002 : Sections 4, 5, 8 r/w Section 2(h) r/w Sections 9(1), 12
  • W.B. of Smoking & Spitting and Protection of Health of Non-smokers and Minors Act, 2001 : Sections 5, 6, 10 r/w Section 2(8) r/w Sections 11(1), 14

Below is an awareness video by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare highlighting the dangers that is lead towards on spitting in public spaces in view of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Following are the points that have been featured in the video:

  • Spitting in public spaces is in itself “PROHIBITED” and the same stand can be maintained various Central and State Rules and Regulations as underlined above.
  • Spitting in public places increased the dangers of COVID-19.
  • To contain the outbreak of COVID-19, cleanliness of circumambient should be looked after
  • Spitting in public places and open surfaces adds to the danger and outbreak of COVID19.

Please follow the link to have a look at the video:

Video

Hot Off The PressNews

The target envisaged in National Health Policy, 2017 for a relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use is 30% by 2025.

The National Health Policy 2017 of the Government of India identifies coordinated action on ‘Addressing tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse’ as one of the seven priority areas as outlined for improving the environment for health. Accordingly, Nasha Mukti Abhiyan Task Force (including tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse) was constituted to formulate a detailed ‘Preventive and Promotive Care Strategy’ for addressing tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse (Nasha Mukti Abhiyan). Pursuant to its first meeting, three Working Groups viz. Working Group on Preventive Aspects; Regulatory Mechanisms; and Curative Aspects to formulate a strategy for Nasha Mukti Abhiyan were constituted. The Working Group on Regulatory Mechanisms has the mandate to explore the existing provisions of the concerned laws/schemes and to analyse whether any amendment is required in the existing provision/scheme. The recommendations of the Working Group for redrafting/modifying the existing provisions of COTPA are awaited.

Further, the Inter-Ministerial Committee for prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) has been constituted in this Ministry to facilitate the implementation of actions required for prevention and control of NCDs as outlined in National Multi sectorial Action Plan (NMAP). The NCD Committee does not work on legal reforms.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mithlesh Kumar Tiwari, J. while allowing a petition quashed the impugned order whereby the petitioner was awarded a punishment of stoppage of two annual increments on a permanent basis.

The present petition was filed pertaining to challenging an order, according to which the petitioner in the present case had been inflicted the punishment of stoppage of two annual increments permanently. The said punishment was awarded through the order based on the allegation against the petitioner that he was found in possession of and consuming tobacco/pan masala in office premises in an excessive quantity during the course of an inspection.

The submission of the learned Counsel for the petitioner Mr Arvind Kumar was that the punishment imposed is a major punishment under the U.P. Government Servant (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1999 which could not have been inflicted unless the respondents had followed the detailed procedure of holding a disciplinary enquiry.

The High Court stated that stoppage of two annual increments on a permanent basis is a major punishment and is also not disputed by the learned standing counsel. If that was so it was incumbent upon the respondents to follow the due process as stipulated under the 1999 Rules and which must mandatorily be adhered to before the imposition of a major punishment.

Therefore, on an overall conspectus of the aforesaid facts, the Court allowed the writ petition and reversed the impugned order by quashing the same. [Mithlesh Kumar Tiwari v. State of U.P., Writ-A No. 11408 of 2018, Order dated 13-11-2018]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In the present case, the Court set aside  the decision of Bombay, Madras and Gujarat High Courts barring the restaurants to provide tobacco products including cigarettes and hookah in smoking area of the licensed premises viz. restaurants, airports etc. The Court was hearing challenge against the Circulars issued by Municipal Corporations of Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad implementing Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply & Distribution) Act, 2003 and Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, which allegedly banned serving of hookah in licensed premises.

The counsel for appellant C.U.Singh, contended that the circular by Mumbai Municipal Corporation was in excess of the provisions provided in the above mentioned Acts. The counsel for respondents R.P.Bhatt said the circular provided only what was stated in the respective Act and Rules, read with harmonious construction, and nothing extra was provided in the Circulars.

The Court hearing the appeal against Bombay HC, held that the circular exceeded its power since Section 6 of Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 bars selling of cigarettes and other tobacco products only to a minor and within 100 yards of educational institutions and clearly adding any new condition i.e. of barring licensed premises to serve tobacco products, to the existing ones would be impermissible by law. The Court further said that Rule 3 (1)(a) of Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules 2008 makes it incumbent upon owner of a licensed premises to prohibit smoking in such places but where smoking in smoking area is allowed by Rule 4(3) therefore smoking hookah would be allowed in such places as the same comes under the definition of smoking provided under Section 3(n) of the  Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act, 2003. The Court added that the dimensions for smoking area provided in the Circular is within ambit of municipal corporations and thus have to be adhered to. Similarly decision of Madras HC was set aside banning sale of tobacco products within 300 feet of educational institution as the Act provided for 100 yards. The decision of Gujarat HC upholding the ban implemented under Section 144 of CrPC was also set aside holding that the Order under said Section was only valid for 2 months and the same cannot be extended  for long in name of equity as it would be in contravention of law. Narinder S. Chadha v.Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumba, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 981, decided on 8.12.2014)