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Gandhi's name in Mont Blanc pen sparks controversy

Source: PTI
October 04, 2009 21:03 IST

A controversy has erupted over the use of Mahatma Gandhi's name and image by Swiss luxury giant Mont Blanc for a pen costing Rs 14 lakh, since the apostle of peace was known for simplicity throughout his life.

The limited edition Gandhi pen was launched in Mumbai by Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of the Father of the Nation,on September 29. But two days later, the Kerala High Court admitted a public interest litigation challenging the marketing of the luxury pens in India while issuing notices to Mont Blanc International, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affair and others. The petitioner, Dijo Kapen of the Centre of Consumer Education, Kottayam, contended that the attempt to manufacture and market luxury pens in the name of the Mahatma was wrong, illegal and liable to be prohibited. He submitted that entry 9A of the schedule of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, states that the name or pictorial representation of Gandhi as an item cannot be used for the purpose of any trade or business under provision of the Act. Kapen contended that making Gandhi the symbol of a Rs 14

lakh pen was nothing but an attempt to cause degeneration of everything that he symbolised and mock at the middle class and those below the poverty line who look up to him.

However, Tushar Gandhi has expressed surprise at those opposing the venture and said the Mahatma's image has been used in advertising for long. 
Reacting to controversy over Montblanc's pen, Tushar told PTI, "I am surprised that they (the people who are opposing it) have woken up so late. Gandhi's image has been used in advertising for long."
Asked about a PIL filed in the Kerala High Court citing the Emblems Act, he said, "I am very much aware of this law,
and in fact many times, when Gandhi's name was used in commercial products, I raised the issue with government. "But In Montblanc's case, I don't think that they have violated the law. Using Gandhi's name in a way that honours him doesn't violate Indian laws."  On whether he has received any notice from Kerala High Court, he said, "I heard about the PIL, but I don't know whether they have made me a respondent."

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