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Supreme Court PoP Ganesh Idols Ban: Upholds Madras High Court Decision ; Controversial Ruling Sparks Debate

Supreme Court PoP Ganesh Idols Ban : Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra, has declined to intervene in the Madras High Court’s order that prohibits the sale of Ganesh idols made with plaster of Paris (PoP) in Tamil Nadu

New Delhi, 18 September (City Times): Supreme Court PoP Ganesh Idols Ban : In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court of India, comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra, has declined to intervene in the Madras High Court’s order that prohibits the sale of Ganesh idols made with plaster of Paris (PoP) in Tamil Nadu. This decision has sparked considerable debate in light of the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

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Petition Challenges High Court’s Ruling

The matter reached the Supreme Court when Senior Advocate Shyam Divan urgently presented a petition contesting a division bench ruling of the Madras High Court. The Madras High Court’s division bench had stayed a single judge’s order that had permitted the sale of Ganesh idols made from Plaster of Paris. (Supreme Court PoP Ganesh Idols Ban)

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Urgent Consideration Due to Ganesh Chaturthi

Despite not being initially listed, the Supreme Court decided to hear the case urgently, taking into account the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Shyam Divan, representing the petitioner, argued that the petitioner is a longstanding artisan who has been crafting these idols for years. He explained that the police had halted the sale of the idols on Friday. Subsequently, the petitioner approached the Madurai Bench of the High Court, which held a special session on Saturday. In this session, it was ruled that the sale of such idols could not be prohibited, and only their immersion in water bodies was restricted. However, the division bench stayed the single judge’s decision after convening a special session on Sunday. (Supreme Court PoP Ganesh Idols Ban)

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Central Pollution Control Board Guidelines

Advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, the Additional Advocate General of Tamil Nadu, contended that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines prohibit not only the manufacture of Plaster of Paris idols but also mandate that even eco-friendly idols must be immersed in private water tanks, not public water bodies. (Supreme Court PoP Ganesh Idols Ban)

Supreme Court’s Verdict

In response to these arguments, Chief Justice Chandrachud remarked that the petitioner could have used natural clay instead of Plaster of Paris. The Supreme Court then dismissed the matter.(Supreme Court PoP Ganesh Idols Ban)

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Background of the Case

The controversy stems from a judgment by Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madurai Bench on September 16, 2023. Justice Swaminathan ruled that while the sale of Ganesh idols made from Plaster of Paris could not be restricted, their immersion in water bodies could be limited. He permitted artisans to sell Plaster of Paris Ganesha idols while maintaining a register with details of all buyers, which could be inspected by the authorities.(Supreme Court PoP Ganesh Idols Ban)

Justice Swaminathan asserted that artisans had the right to sell their articles, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, and preventing the sale would violate this fundamental right. He also emphasized that if the idols were eco-friendly, their production and sale could not be prevented, making such actions illegal, and authorities would be accountable.

However, a division bench of the Madras High Court, comprising Justice SS Sundar and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy, stayed this order in a special session on September 17, 2023. The division bench reasoned that the single judge’s order could not stand because every worshipped Vinayaka idol had to be immersed traditionally made of clay. The bench clarified that the prohibition was solely related to the use of Plaster of Paris.

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