Despite Conflict of Interest, Tobacco Barons Remain in Key Parliament Committee

Parliament. Credit: Deepak Gupta/Flickr

Parliament. Credit: Deepak Gupta/Flickr

New Delhi: Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recommendation that parliamentary committees should not contain MPs who have an interest in the subject matter to be taken up, a key panel that earlier this year blocked the Health Ministry’s proposal to increase the size of pictorial warnings on cigarette packets from 40% to 85% continues to have tobacco barons as members.

The term of the Committee on Subordinate Legislation has been reconstituted for one more year without any changes in its membership. The term of the  committee, which began on September 1, 2014, ended on August 31, 2015 but has been extended for another year until Aug 31, 2016.

Interestingly, no members have been changed, including Shyam Charan Gupta, who has interests in tobacco, despite a clear conflict of interest.

Another intriguing aspect has been that the committee is yet to meet Health Ministry officials to discuss the tobacco issue as that meeting has been rescheduled twice (on August 25 and 28 August. It has met with various other ministries and civil society representatives