Bidi baron renamed in Parliament committee examining tobacco law

NEW DELHI:In a move that will reignite the debate around conflict of interest of MPs in parliamentary committees, a bidi baron from the ruling BJP has been reappointed to the panel examining anti-tobacco laws and provisions.

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7

In a move that will reignite the debate around conflict of interest of MPs in parliamentary committees, a bidi baron from the ruling BJP has been reappointed to the panel examining anti-tobacco laws and provisions.

The Committee on Subordinate Legislation, instrumental recently in delaying harsher pictorial warnings on tobacco packages, has been reconstituted with no change in the past membership. What's ironical is BJP's MP from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh SC Gupta has been renamed as the committee member despite his interests in the tobacco industry. 

Gupta is a bidi baron and his presence on the committee had earlier also led to questions about how a tobacco industrialist could sit on a panel deciding on the validity of anti-tobacco warnings.

Reconstituted for another year, the committee is currently meeting with stakeholders to decide whether India needs to implement larger and harsher pictorial warnings on tobacco packs. This committee had in its interim report submitted earlier in March to Parliament recommended that the harsher warnings be deferred till their impact was comprehensively studied.

The Ministry of Health had accordingly deferred indefinitely the roll out of harsher warnings (covering 80 per cent pack area instead of 40 pc today). 

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