12 Oct 2023 5:30 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has said that the policy mandating obtaining of licence to work as photographers in Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected monuments has been notified “in larger public interest” to regulate the quality and conduct of photographers for the benefit of visitors and tourist.A division bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna upheld the Clause 2.7...
The Delhi High Court has said that the policy mandating obtaining of licence to work as photographers in Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected monuments has been notified “in larger public interest” to regulate the quality and conduct of photographers for the benefit of visitors and tourist.
A division bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna upheld the Clause 2.7 of “The Policy for Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Photographers to perform within Centrally Protected Monuments” notified by the government agency on May 24, 2017.
Vide the amended policy, the licences granted by ASI to photographers prior to 2012 are revalidated subject to the photographers undergoing refresher courses with test conducted by the agency.
The court dismissed a plea moved by various individuals who worked as photographers within the ASI protected monuments since 2012. They were aggrieved by the fact that since they were not covered by Clause 2.7 of the amended policy as they did not have any previous licence issued by the government agency prior to 2012, they were required to take written test and viva for grant of fresh licence as photographers.
While upholding the policy, the court said that there is a reasonable classification made by the ASI for revalidation of licences of photographers who had licence prior to 2012 and grant of licence to new entrants after 2012 who have no prior licence in photography from the government agency.
“This Court finds no fault with the aforesaid policy of the ASI which is reasonable and fair. There is rationale in the said classification and categorization made on behalf of ASI, as the photographers having licence prior to the year 2012 constitute a separate class altogether,” the bench ruled.
It added: “The photographers who are applying for licence for operating in ASI Protected Monuments for the first time are a different class and cannot claim to be at par with the photographers who had valid licences from the ASI prior to the year 2012 in terms of the then policy of the ASI.”
Furthermore, the court observed that the photographers who are applying for licence for the first time “stand on a different footing” and “cannot claim to be at par” with photographers who had licences from the ASI prior to 2012.
“The contention of the petitioners regarding their rights guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India being jeopardised, is totally misplaced and liable to be rejected. Obtaining licence by following the due selection procedure laid down by ASI does not in any manner violate the right of the petitioners under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India,” the court said.
The court also rejected the petitioners’ contention that the policy is sought to be applied retrospectively by the authorities and that it shall not be applicable to them.
“The aforesaid policy is being applied prospectively by the ASI and all those persons who seek to operate as photographers in ASI protected monuments are liable to obtain licence from ASI after participating in the prescribed selection process. Merely because the petitioners have operated as photographers without licence in the past owing to the policy in vogue at the material time that did not require licence, does not obviate the requirement of obtaining licence in terms of the policy that is prevalent now,” the court said.
Advocates for petitioners: Taranpreet Singh, Advocate with Mr. Dharm Prakash and Mr. Mohd. Shameem.
Advocates for respondents: Vikrant N.Goyal, Advocate with Mr. Jeet Chakravarti and Ms. Rituparna Sahoo, Advocates. Ms. Monika Arora, CGSC with Mr. Subrodeep Saha and Ms. Prakriti Bandhan, Advocates for UOI. Mr. Rakesh Kumar, CGSC with Mr. Sunil, Advocate.
Title: MATA PRASAD AND ORS v. UNION OF INDIA AND ORS
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 949
Click Here To Read Order