Former Excise Commissioner Deepak Kumar sues tobacco giant ITC Ltd

Deepak Kumar: A throat cancer survivor

Deepak Kumar: A throat cancer patient

Deepak ’s worst fears had come true. His bouts of cough were because of cancer of the vocal cord. Deepak was a high ranking officer in the Department of Customs in Mumbai. The mere thought that the treatment of his cancer involves complete removal of his voice box was terrifying. After several rounds of consultations with Radiation and Medical Oncologist, he agreed for complete surgical removal of voice box. Deepak ended up with a permanent hole in the neck for breathing and an artificial voice.

He started working full time within 2 months of completion of his treatment despite having difficulty in speech and swallowing. He found it the best treatment for the anxiety and depression that was catching up with him. One fine day, while watching an album a thought came across his mind to sue Indian Tobacco Company for his sufferings. In the album he saw a picture of his college days when he was participating in ‘wills made for each other contest” sponsored by Indian Tobacco Company to promote their cigarettes. He vividly remembered smoking his first cigarette during that event and later on he got hooked to it.

After discussion with me and armed with some literature, Deepak filed for 10 million rupee compensation in Mumbai Consumer court against tobacco giant ITC (erstwhile BAT). ITC tried their level best to get the case rejected but the court admitted the application. ITC, as usual enlisted some of the most expensive lawyers and got favorable affidavits from their paid scientists from UK, Canada, Germany etc. Their scientists tried to confuse the Judiciary by their voluminous affidavits proving that Deepak’s cancer was not linked to smoking, there is no association between smoking and laryngeal cancer and nicotine is not addictive. To counter these false claims, he roped in some of the most respected specialists from India. With help of Globalink members, his supporters exposed that most of the ITC’s scientists were paid and some of them actually had Tobacco Industry support for their researches. They all had appeared in several such cases for BAT/ITC. His supporters also exposed through hidden Industry documents that ITC new of harmful effects of tobacco way back in 1953, yet chose to hid it from its consumer till mandated by law in 2008. No one ever believed that a common man can withstand a mighty tobacco giant. This consumer case created huge wave in the media and legal circles of India.

Mr Deepak Kumar lost the consumer case and Tobacco Giant won again. Now, Mr Deepak Kumar wants to approach the National Commission to get justice.

Mr Deepak Kumar has not lost hope though he is retired from his job. He has decided to approach the national commission to seek justice. Mr Deepak Kumar has joined “ Voice of Tobacco Victims – http://www.vovindia.org/” as a tobacco control advocate and delivers awareness lectures.

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