The latest viral advertisement which has caught everybody’s attention is that of the MTS ‘Internet Baby’. It features a baby which, as soon as it is born, uses the internet to post selfies and even googles ‘how to cut an umbilical cord’ and does it by itself. The tagline for the ad aptly reads, ‘Born for the Internet’.
However, on March 24th, 2014, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) issued an order against MTS (also known as Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited- SSTL) prohibiting the airing of the advertisement after April 7, 2014. Apparently, the ASCI had received complaints from viewers that the ad was “gross and indecent” and “offensive especially to women” as it featured a woman in the birthing position. SSTL, filed a Writ Petition in front of the Delhi High Court requesting the Hon’ble Court to quash the order of ASCI. SSTL, argued that the order of the ASCI violated Art.19(1)(a) and Art. 14 of the Constitution of India as it was an arbitrary curtailment of freedom of speech. It was further argued that as the order of the ASCI was a non-speaking order, it violated the principles of Natural Justice.
On April 1st, 2014, The Delhi High Court, on considering the arguments, has stayed the order of the ASCI on the grounds that if the interim order is not granted, it would cause irreparable injury to the petitioners. The Advertisement can therefore now be aired. The next date of hearing is on August 12th, 2014. The Internet Baby can continue to entertain television viewers until then.
Anand and Anand represented the petitioner, MTS.