Supreme Court Refuses To Interfere With Madras HC Order Prohibiting Sale Of Ganesh Idols With Plaster Of Paris

Padmakshi Sharma

18 Sep 2023 11:20 AM GMT

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  • Supreme Court Refuses To Interfere With Madras HC Order Prohibiting Sale Of Ganesh Idols With Plaster Of Paris

    The Supreme Court on Monday (September 18) refused to interfere with an order passed by the Madras High Court which disallowed the sale of Ganesh idols containing plaster of paris in Tamil Nadu.The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra dismissed a petition challenging a division bench decision of the Madras High Court which stayed an order of a...

    The Supreme Court on Monday (September 18) refused to interfere with an order passed by the Madras High Court which disallowed the sale of Ganesh idols containing plaster of paris in Tamil Nadu.

    The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra dismissed a petition challenging a division bench decision of the Madras High Court which stayed an order of a single judge allowing the sale of Ganesh idols made using Plaster of Paris.

    The matter was urgently mentioned by Senior Advocate Shyam Divan who apprised the bench that a single judge had held that there could not be a stay on manufacturing of idols and that the restriction was only on the immersion of the idols made of Plaster of Paris. 

    Though the petition was not otherwise listed today, the bench agreed to take it up at the end of the board considering the urgency (Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated tomorrow).

    Shyam Divan submitted that the petitioner is an artisan who has been making the idols for years. He said that on Friday, the police stopped the sale of the idols. The petitioner then approached the Madurai Bench of the High Court, which, in a special sitting held on Saturday, held that the sale of such idols cannot be stopped and that only their immersion in waterbodies was prevented. This judgment of the single bench was stayed by the division bench after a special sitting convened on Sunday. Divan said that the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board was only relating to immersion.

    Advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, Additional Advocate General of Tamil Nadu, said that the CPCB guidelines prohibited even manufacture of Plaster of Paris idols and that the guidelines prescribed that even the idols made of eco-friendly materials have to be immersed in private water tanks and not in public water bodies.

    "You could have used natural clay, sorry. Dismissed", CJI Chandrachud told Divan before dismissing the matter. Earlier, when the matter was mentioned for urgent listing in the morning, CJI Chandrachud asked what will people do with the idols made of Plaster of Paris if they can't be immersed.

    Background

    On Saturday (16.09.2023) Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madurai bench had observed that while the sale of Vinayaka idols made of plaster of Paris cannot be restricted, their immersion in water bodies can be restricted. The single judge had thus allowed Artisans to sell Ganesha idols made using Plaster of Paris by keeping a register containing details of all purchasers which could then be inspected by the authorities.

    The single judge had ruled that the artisan was entitled to sell his articles and that right was guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. He had also observed that the prevention of sale would amount to infringement of fundamental right. Further, 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.

    However, a division bench of Justice SS Sundar and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy, on a special sitting on Sunday (17.09.2023) had stayed the order. The bench opined that the order of the Single Judge could not be sustained as every Vinayaka idol that was worshipped had to be immersed. The bench emphasized that idols were traditionally made using clay and added that the prohibition was only with respect to the use of Plaster of Paris.



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