A Special Leave Petition filed challenging the order passed by the Division Bench of the Madras High Court staying the operation of the Single Judge's order permitting the sale of Ganesha idols made of even Plaster of Paris (POP) was mentioned today before the Supreme Court.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan mentioned the matter before the Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra. He said that an email had already been circulated for the purpose. "Let me first examine the matter", the CJI said.

"The Judgement was passed yesterday night by the Division Bench of the High Court. The Single Judge had passed an order on Friday. The single judge had permitted the sale. The net result of the order of the Division Bench is that I can't even sell the idol. This was passed yesterday evening. The Single Judge had provided arrangements for sale for the purpose of immersion," the Senior Advocate told the Court.

The Chief Justice then agreed to hear the matter after today after the list of fresh cases.

In a special sitting on Sunday, the Division Bench of the Madras High Court had ordered that there shall not be any sale or manufacturing of Vinayaka idol made using Plaster of Paris. The Court rejected the argument that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines are not enforceable without the State framing rules and held that the order holding that the guidelines would apply only to immersion and not sale of idols cannot be sustained.

The SLP filed through Advocate K. V. Muthu Kumar on behalf of the Rajasthan-based artisan who was prevented from selling Vinayaka idols, submits that the State Government has violated the Rights of the Petitioner under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution by harassing and threatening criminal action against the Petitioner for merely manufacturing idols. SLP states that the Petitioner has been deprived of his right to carry on his profession and conduct business.

It has also been submitted that it has been presumed that all purchasers prior to Vinayaka Chaturthi are purchasing it to immerse it in the river. The SLP states that the State has nowhere averred as to how the purchasers for purposes of immersion are distinguished from casual purchasers who would purchase the idol to be kept as a showpiece or for purposes other than immersion.

"The entire gamut of the manufacturing has been tarred with the same brush of immersion in a natural river and hence the State has chosen to attack the Fundamental Right under Art. 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution of India. The Ld. Single Judge rightly construed “reasonable restriction” to be maintenance of a register containing the names of the purchasers which can be open to inspection", reads the SLP.

It has been further highlighted in the SLP that the ban extended on Plaster of Paris is not to be confused with manufacture of idols, but only with immersion in the water bodies. "The order of the Ld. Single only prohibited immersion of non-ecofriendly idols and had rightly observed the distinction of the interplay of the various Fundamental Rights involved", submits the SLP.

Cause Title: Prakash v. The District Collector And Ors.