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The Madras High Court has passed an order directing the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE) to issue a Circular to all the Temple Authorities informing the devotees to refrain from carrying any plastic bags inside the religious premises.
To this end, the Bench of Justices S Vaidyanathan and PT Asha also directed the HR&CE Department to exhibit such directions banning the use of plastics on the Notice Board and other conspicuous places, like the entrance of a place of worship.
Similar instructions were ordered to be placed in front of Churches, Mosques, Dargahs etc. Shops selling offerings in places of worship are to be instructed about using the traditional storage materials like baskets, paper bags, jute bags, plantain or other leaves in place of plastic.
The Court passed the order after also recording assurances given by Additional Advocate General PH Aravindh Pandian that in the event of granting permission to conduct any sports event, dharna, protest, etc., the Police Authorities would incorporate a condition with regard to avoidance of plastic bags, paper cups and plastic bottles, etc., thereon.
The matter will be taken up next on March 3.
The order came on a review plea pending in a case concerning the ban on single use plastic in Tamil Nadu.
In June 2018 the State of Tamil Nadu had passed a Government Order announcing a total ban on the manufacture, storage, supply, sale and use of ‘use and throwaway plastics’.
Pleas filed challenging the state’s power to impose the ban were dismissed by a Division Bench of Justices Vaidyanathan and Asha in December 2018.
A similar challenge was later moved by the manufacturers of non-woven plastic carry bags, manufacturers of paper cups and manufacturers of plastic carry bags in July last year.
The Division Bench of Justices R Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy had dismissed this plea stating that public interest would outweigh private interests and that the right to livelihood of the petitioners was subject to reasonable restrictions.
This Bench had stated in their order that the plastic ban could not be viewed as discriminatory since it was imposed with a view to prevent environmental disaster.On the same reasoning, the Court had also suggested that, “… the exemption granted by the Government to some of the consumables sold through one time use and throw away plastics deserves to be re-considered by the Government.”