NEW DELHI (NS) – The Karnataka High Court on Friday quashed government rules that mandated stringent graphic health warnings on tobacco products, lawyers involved in the case said, in a decision seen as a major victory for the tobacco industry and a setback for health advocates.

A shopkeeper selling cigarettes waits in his store at a market in Mumbai, India, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/Files

The Supreme Court last year ordered enforcement of the government’s 2014 rules that required 85 percent of a tobacco pack’s surface to be covered in health warnings, up from 20 percent earlier, despite protests by the tobacco industry.

At the same time, the top court had asked the court in Karnataka to rule on the dozens of tobacco industry pleas that challenged the federal rules.

That court on Friday struck down the government’s 2014 notification, said Aradhana L, a lawyer at Poovayya & Co, who represented tobacco companies including India’s ITC and Philip Morris International Inc’s Indian partner, Godfrey Phillips India Ltd.

The government lawyer in the case, Krishna S. Dixit, confirmed the rules had been struck down but said he would appeal in the Supreme Court.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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