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First time in India, man booked for selling tobacco to minor

Thursday, February 18, 2016
By Asif Rizvi

The Juvenile Aid Protection Unit (JAPU) of the Mumbai police has booked a 43 year old man under the Amended Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act for selling cigarettes to minors, making it the first ever case in India under the freshly amended act which was enforced in January this year. The accused identified as Maniram Chaurasiya was handed over to the Matunga police station.    

“The Juvenile Aid Protection Unit (JAPU) had received information that the accused, whose shop is located near a school in Matunga had been selling tobacco products to minors. A trap was laid and he was found selling a cigarette to a 17 year old boy and was arrested,” said Atulchandra Kulkarni, Jt.CP, Crime Branch.

Adding further, “It is a serious concern hence we have decided to conduct special drives against it in the city. The social service branch will be conducting drives against sale of tobacco products to minors. Also the the Anti-Narcotics cell of the Mumbai crime branch will be conducting drives.”     

DCP Enforcement Dr. Pravin Patil said, “We are in the process of collecting the data of the schools and colleges as part of the drive. We have collected email ids of schools and colleges and the process is ongoing. NGOs are also being asked to participate in the drive.”

Oncologist Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi of Tata Memorial hospital noted, “The records suggest, nearly two crore people in Maharashtra consume tobacco and a vast majority of them start their habit in their childhood. As per the Global Adult tobacco survey, the age of initiation of tobacco habits in Maharashtra is 17 years and as per the global youth tobacco survey about 15 per cent of children in Maharashtra are tobacco consumers.”     

A recently conducted drive under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) saw as many as 4,000 cases detected under the drive. The Joint commissioner of the FDA, Harish Baijal said, “As part of the drive about 90 cases were found to be close to school premises. Over 4,000 cases came to light and Rs.7 lakh was collected as fines.”

People selling tobacco products to minors were earlier booked under either the COPTA, Food Security Act or the JJ Act where people were let off with a fine of a mere Rs.200 but after the amendment of the JJ act which has a strict provision under relevant sections, a person can face a jail term up to seven years and the fine may also be increased to Rs.one lakh.

What the JJ Act, Section 77 says
“Whoever gives or causes to be given to any child any intoxicating liquor or any narcotic drug or tobacco products or psychotropic substance, except on the order of a duly qualified medical practitioner, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to a fine which may extend up to one lakh rupees.”

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