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Tobacco investment PIL excludes mutual funds

Even as leading doctors and executives of in their personal capacity have filed a (public interest litigation) petition against public sector companies for their investments in stocks, the petitioners have omitted an important investor category of stocks: The that own shares in companies.

One of the petitioners, Sumitra Hooda Pednekar, wife of the late Satish Pednekar, former minister of Maharashtra who died of oral cancer, has been vocal about the taxes that the government earns from industries, and also the profits that Life Corporation, financial institutions, and have made from their investments in companies.

Statistics collated by this newspaper show own shares of Rs 14,000 crore in companies, with Rs 13,500 crore in major ITC as of March 2017. 

On Thursday, Pednekar and six others filed the petition in the Bombay High Court, seeking the court’s directions to public sector firms to sell their holding in companies. The petition said while the government had committed itself to tackling the problem of and its harmful effects, the companies, along with SUUTI (Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India), in complete disregard for the government’s policy, continue to invest in ITC.


products are responsible for millions of deaths worldwide each year as their use is considered a major factor in stroke, heart attack, lung diseases, and cancer. Investment companies, including mutual funds, in the US and Europe are egged on to sell their stakes in companies. 

Investments by companies in the West are especially targeted because they not only sell health and life but also slap higher premiums on smokers. Hence, critics say they profit from investing in companies and charging higher premium from smokers. 

But over the years, some funds, especially retirement funds and companies in the US, Canada, and Scandinavian countries, have sold their sin stocks, which fall in the tobacco, gambling, arms, and liquor segments, and casinos.


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