The High Court of Bombay has issued notices to India’s Union government asking it to respond to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a group of health experts that has asked the court to direct the government to divest its holdings in tobacco companies, according to a story in the Economic Times relayed by the TMA.
These investments include the government’s Rs1.07 trillion (US$16.6 billion) stake in cigarette company ITC Ltd.
The court is due to decide on April 27 whether to admit the PIL.
The government, through its insurance arms, Life Insurance Corporation of India, General Insurance Corporation of India, the New India Assurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company Limited and Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI), holds a 30.25 percent stake in ITC.
At the same time, the New India Assurance Company holds a 1.7 percent stake in VST Industries.
The petitioners want the court also to prohibit the government from making fresh investments in tobacco companies.