The Kerala High Court issued directions to prevent the sale of plastic bottles and other plastic articles, including toys, utensils, and packaged drinking water, by any Kuthaka holder or unauthorized hawkers in Sabarimala.

The Special Commissioner, Sabarimala had filed a report regarding the presence of unauthorized hawkers/sellers of plastic bottles and other plastic at Nilakkal. The report highlighted a 2015 Kerala High Court order imposing a comprehensive ban on all forms of plastic, including bottles, sachets, wraps, covers, drinking straws, and even 'Irumudikkettu.' The Court had instructed authorities to “ensure that plastic, in whichever form it be, do not find itself in and around Sabarimala.

Similarly, in 2016, the Court directed the Kerala Water Authority and Travancore Devaswom Board to provide free purified and potable water to pilgrims at Sabarimala. And then in 2015, the Court issued an order prohibiting the sale of toys, plastic utensils, and unconnected materials, with squads under Duty Magistrates posted to enforce these orders.

In this effect, a Division Bench of Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice G. Girish ordered: “The Board [Travancore Devaswom Board] shall take stern action against the Kuthaka holders who are selling packed drinking water in plastic/PET bottles and other plastic articles at Sannidhanam, Pamba and Nilakkal, in violation of clause No.43 of the general conditions which forms part of the tender notifications issued for auctioning the Kuthaka rights. The Board shall close down the shops of the Kuthaka holders who have violated clause No.43 of the general conditions. Police, District Administration and Grama Panchayat shall take immediate steps to remove all unauthorised hawkers from Nilakkal, Pamba and Sannidhanam.

Advocate Akhilesh Srivastava represented the petitioners.

The Court discussed serious security lapses that occurred due to the presence of unauthorised hawkers whose identities are not verified including an incident where an unauthorised vendor attacked another unauthorised vendor and stabbed him in his neck with a sharp stick “due to rivalry in connection with the pricing of their articles.

The Court considered all the facts and submissions and directed relevant authorities to “prevent the sale of plastic bottles, packed drinking water in plastic/PET bottles and also the sale of plastic utensils and toys in Sannidhanam, Pamba and Nilakkal and also in the trekking path, by any Kuthaka holder or unauthorised hawkers.

Cause Title: Suo Motu v. State of Kerala & Ors. (2024:KER:1097)

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