It turns out that the courts in India are working tirelessly to not only secure our rights but also to make our daily errands easier and simpler. Assuming readers know what the green and brown circles on the packaging indicate, how many times have we not just looked at the green / brown circle to see if a snicker bar or the Britannia cake contains all the vegetarian ingredients or for that regardless of any other product, it only takes a few seconds to get this information. Imagine having to go through the entire description of the ingredients on the package or worse, what if they were never mentioned on the package?

Not many of us know that the circles were a result of what was held in the case of Ozair Hussain v Union of India by the High Court of Delhi (AIR 2003 Delhi 103). Since you’ve read the article this far (it would only take a few minutes to read the intricacies of the case) why not read the intricacies of this case, it would only take a few minutes.


The petitioner, a voluntary animal welfare officer, is a promoter and supporter of animal rights and objects to the consumption and use of animals and their derivatives for food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The fact that almost half of vegetarians in India are illiterate and do not understand English prompted the petitioner to look for cosmetic and food products that have an easily recognizable symbol that indicates the origin or ingredients of the products, whether vegetarian or not vegetarian, so that both educated and illiterate people, before choosing products and fully disclosing the ingredients of cosmetics and food, can make an informed decision by referring to Article 19 (1) (a), Article 21, Article 25 of the Constitution and Calling the Preamble The Constitution requires the disclosure of information.


  1. whether in this country a consumer of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food has a constitutionally guaranteed right to full disclosure of the ingredients indicated on the product or its label or its packaging in writing or not?
  2. whether packaging of non-vegetarian products should have a symbol indicating their non-vegetarian origin?
  3. whether a pack of vegetarian products should also have a symbol or not?


It is the consumer’s basic right to know whether the food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals are of non-vegetarian or vegetarian origin, otherwise this violates his or her basic rights under Article 19 Paragraph 1 Letter a, Article 21 and Article 25 of the Constitution.

The Constitution is believed to require disclosure of information as consumers have a constitutionally guaranteed right to full disclosure of the ingredients of cosmetics, medicines and food.

A consumer of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food has a constitutionally guaranteed right to full disclosure of its ingredients, which are clearly indicated by writing on the product or its label or packaging. (ii) Packaging for non-vegetarian products should have a symbol indicating their non-vegetarian origin. and (iii) a pack of vegetarian product should also bear a symbol.


The answer to the first question lies in Article 19 (1) (a), 21 and 25 of the Indian Constitution, read with some provisions of the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, and that right includes the freedom to seek, receive and share ideas of all kinds regardless of oral, written or written boundaries, whether through art or through print other media of his choice. Reading Article 19 (1) (a) along with Articles 19 (1) and 19 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India has signed, one can conclude that the right to freedom of expression and expression includes freedom to seek, receive and convey ideas. It seems to us that the freedom to express opinions, ideas, beliefs and thoughts, etc., which is also enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution, is part of freedom of expression and expression.

In this context above, the Court reads Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution to serve the following two purposes: 1) It may help the consignor learn the truth about the composition of the products, whether or not they are made from animals including birds and fresh water or marine animals or eggs, and (2) it can help him fulfill his belief or opinion in vegetarianism.

In this case, the Court broadened the meaning of the term “freedom” in Article 21 of the Constitution by restricting the term not to mere freedom from physical restraint, but rather the beauty of the term to other rights such as the right to freedom of expression and the right to to maintain and cultivate this opinion. Article 21 granted this right to every Indian citizen, guaranteeing them the right to obtain information and know the ingredients of cosmetics, medicines and foods.

Article 25 of the Constitution regulates freedom of conscience. If, in the present context, the packaging of food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals does not contain any information by means of a suitable symbol or in writing about the content, the consumer’s freedom of conscience is violated, as he may unconsciously consume a product against his belief, beliefs and opinions.

For food, some of the changes the Court made to Part VII of the Food Adulteration Act 1954 are as follows: – The names of the ingredients used in the product, as well as their composition, must be on the packaging and in a statement to indicate that a Product is vegetarian or non-vegetarian, a circle of green or brown color must be made inside the square with a green or brown outline, the side of which is twice the diameter of the circle. Such a symbol must be displayed on the packaging with a contrasting background near the name or brand name of the product, as well as on labels, containers, brochures, leaflets and advertisements in all media. If the product only contains egg as a non-vegetarian ingredient, this must be declared in addition to the symbol.

When it comes to cosmetics, for the purpose of disclosing their ingredients, they must be treated like food packaging. In addition, it was advised that any cosmetic or medicinal product other than a life-saving medicinal product containing ingredients of non-vegetarian origin must have a label with a red color icon on the main scoreboard in close proximity to the name or brand name of the medicinal product or cosmetic. For a cosmetic or a drug other than a life-saving drug that contains all ingredients of vegetarian origin, the packaging must have a green color icon on the main display area in close proximity to the name or brand name of the drug or cosmetic. Regardless of whether the ingredients are of vegetarian or non-vegetarian origin, the type of product from which the product originates must be stated in writing on the packaging.

With regard to life-saving medicines, the Court held that it is not in the consumer’s own interest to be informed whether that particular life-saving medicine is derived from or manufactured in whole or in part by an animal, since it is conducive to the preservation of life. Medicines that are not life-saving medicines must be linked in part to the food and if they are wholly or partly derived from animals, consumers must be informed.


This ruling has truly revolutionized the way cosmetics, medicines and food are packaged and how consumer rights have been exercised in the past. The Court reiterated the importance of respecting a person’s beliefs, practices and opinions. If receiving certain information is critical to a consumer’s opinions, beliefs and practices, it is important that he / she is made aware of that information. In this case, consumer rights have been strengthened again and the rights of the most vulnerable consumer, ie the illiterate, have been secured. This case can only be another example of how far the judiciary goes to protect the rights of its citizens.

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