Patan High Court issues interim order against Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s tobacco ban

Kathmandu: In a recent development, the Patan High Court has issued a crucial interim order, preventing the immediate enforcement of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s (KMC) decision to prohibit the sale and distribution of tobacco products within its jurisdiction.

The High Court’s bench, comprising Judges Janak Pandey and Brajesh Pyakurel, issued the interim order in response to a case filed by Shree Ram Tobacco Udhyog. The order explicitly instructs that KMC’s decision, which was passed on November 28, should not be implemented until the final verdict is reached in the ongoing case.

KMC’s decision included a comprehensive ban on the sale and distribution of tobacco products, along with restrictions on the retail sale of cigarettes. Additionally, the city authorities imposed a fine of Rs 100 for individuals caught smoking within 100 meters of public places.

Shree Ram Tobacco Udhyog, the industry behind the legal challenge, argued in court that the government had announced plans to implement policy reforms for the packaging of biodegradable organic products starting from April 13, 2024, as part of the fiscal year 2023/24 budget. The industry claimed to have made significant investments and preparations in alignment with this upcoming policy.

The bench expressed the opinion that KMC’s decision to enforce a complete ban, grounded in the Public Health Act, particularly on industries operating responsibly, paying taxes, and contributing to revenue generation, could potentially have adverse effects on the industrial system and result in irreparable damage.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the business community awaits the final decision of the court, which will determine the fate of KMC’s tobacco ban and its potential implications on businesses operating within the city.