17 Sep 2023 4:07 AM GMT
UPDATE : In Special Sunday Sitting, Madras High Court Stays Single Judge Order Allowing Sale Of Ganesh Idols Containing Plaster Of ParisWhile trying to strike a balance between the right to carry on trade and the need to protect the environment, the Madras High Court has observed that while the sale of Vinayaka idols made of plaster of Paris cannot be restricted, their immersion in...
UPDATE : In Special Sunday Sitting, Madras High Court Stays Single Judge Order Allowing Sale Of Ganesh Idols Containing Plaster Of Paris
While trying to strike a balance between the right to carry on trade and the need to protect the environment, the Madras High Court has observed that while the sale of Vinayaka idols made of plaster of Paris cannot be restricted, their immersion in water bodies can be restricted.
Justice GR Swaminathan of Madurai bench on Saturday thus came to the relief of an artisan from Rajasthan who was engaged in making Vinayaka idols. The artisan had approached the court after the District Collector and the Commissioner of Police of Tirunelveli prevented him for selling Vinayaka idols.
“The petitioner as an artisan is entitled to sell the articles made by him and this right is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. The restraint on immersion is reasonable restriction. But prevention of sale would amount to violation of the petitioner's fundamental right. The respondents shall not prevent the petitioner from selling the idols made by him. Of course the sale transactions are subject to the condition mentioned above,” the court observed.
The court thus directed the artisan to furnish details of purchasers by keeping an account of every sale and keeping a register containing particulars of buyers. The court added that the authorities could inspect this register.
“In order to ensure that the norms regarding immersion are not violated, the petitioner is directed to furnish the details of the purchasers. Sale of every idol will have to be duly accounted. The petitioner shall make an register containing particulars of those who are purchasing from him. The register shall be open for inspection by the respondents. If the Vinayaka idol can be dissolved in an eco friendly manner , its installation cannot be stopped. Visarjan can be in any creative manner. In any event, Tamirabarani or any water body cannot be used for immersion of idols made with plaster of paris,” the court said.
The Artisan had submitted that he had borrowed a substantial sum for making the idols and if he was unable to sell them, he would be financially ruined. He added that Plaster of paris had been used only up to permissible level and buyers may use the idols for any purpose including installation at homes, temples or marriage halls.
The Government Advocate, on the other hand submitted that the authority had merely complied with the direction issued by the District Environmental Engineer, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Tirunelveli. He added that the action was taken after receiving complaints from the Village Administrative Officer.
The court also took note of a recent order of the Madras High court taking note of the Pollution Control Guidelines. However, the court noted that the guidelines would not come in the way of selling the idols. The court added that if the idols were eco-friendly, its manufacture and sale could not be prevented and the same would be an illegality for which the authorities will have to answer.
“If the idols are eco- friendly, they can be manufactured and sold and such activities cannot be stopped for any reason. If the police or the authorities indulge in any act of prevention, that would be rank illegality. They will have to answer if the aggrieved individual invokes public law remedy. Damages will have to be paid for the business loss caused,” the court said.
The court also pointed out that it was ironic that while the nation was observing Vishwakarma Jayanthi, who was worshipped by artisans and workers, an Artisan was encountering difficulties at the hands of the authorities.
Counsel for the Petitioner: M/s.V.Moushica for M/s.V.Ramasubbu
Counsel for the Respondent: Mr.S.S.Madhavan Government Advocate (Crl.Side)
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 269
Case Title: Prakash v District Collector
Case No: W.P(MD)No.22892 of 2023