Thu, 21 Sep 2023

New Delhi [India], September 18 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday declined to interfere with a division bench order of the Madras High Court which stayed a single judge's order allowing the sale of Ganesh idols made using Plaster of Paris (PoP).

A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud with Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said the natural clay or other items that can be immersed in water could have been used.

"The appellate order is interim in nature. What is the use of selling idols which cannot be immersed... You could have used natural clay etc. Sorry. Dismissed," said the CJI.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan appeared before the apex court for an artisan who had challenged the division bench order of the High Court. The senior counsel pointed out that facilities can be provided for immersion of PoP idols in artificial water bodies or special tanks.

Several idols now lay unsold due to the division bench order and tomorrow is the 'Ganesh Chaturthi', Divan said, adding that Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines was only relating to immersion.

Tamil Nadu government told the bench that the CPCB guidelines prohibited even the manufacture of PoP idols and 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.

Appeal was filed against the division bench order of the High Court imposing a ban on the sale of Ganesh idols made using PoP.

On Saturday, Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madurai bench observed that while the sale of Ganesh idols made of plaster of Paris cannot be restricted, their immersion in water bodies can be restricted, and thus allowed artisans to sell Ganesha idols made using PoP by keeping a register containing details of all purchasers which could then be inspected by the authorities.

However, on September 17 a division bench of Justice SS Sundar and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy stayed the order while putting hold on manufacturing, selling or immersion of idols made of PoP or plastics.

The division bench relied upon the orders of Nation Green Tribunal and a division bench order which upheld the guidelines of the Pollution Control Board and noted that these guidelines were applicable in the State even in the absence of specific rules by the State government.

It has emphasised that idols were traditionally made using clay and added that the prohibition was only with respect to the use of PoP.

It has also rejected the arguments that such prohibition would cause financial hardship to the artisans, and said that the loss would be less since there was only a day left for the'Ganesh Chaturthi'.

The single judge had said that the artisan was entitled to sell his articles and that right was guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

The State argued before the division bench that using PoP had potential health effects and was thus a health hazard for the human life and allowing sale of idols made using hazardous materials like PoP would infringe the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. (ANI)

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