CHENNAI: The Madras High Court's recent decision to limit the sale of Vinayaka idols crafted from Plaster of Paris (PoP) is grounded in several key factors. During a special hearing on a Sunday, a two-judge panel consisting of Justice SS Sundar and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy overruled a previous order by Justice GR Swaminathan, which had permitted the sale of PoP-based Vinayagar idols.
The Tamil Nadu government contended that allowing the sale of idols manufactured with hazardous materials like Plaster of Paris would violate the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Court underlined that because there are existing prohibitions on both the production of idols using PoP and their immersion, it cannot disregard these established guidelines. Consequently, the Madras High Court's order empowers the authorities to take necessary measures to curb the production and sale of PoP idols, as well as their immersion in water bodies.
Previously, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had issued an order permitting the sale of Vinayagar idols made from non-eco-friendly materials like Plaster of Paris. In response to a petition filed by an artisan based in Rajasthan, Justice GR Swaminathan stipulated that these idols should not be immersed in water bodies. He directed the police and district administration to gather information about individuals purchasing PoP idols, monitor their activities, and prevent them from immersing the idols in water bodies.
Justice Swaminathan acknowledged the reasonableness of the restrictions imposed by the pollution control board. However, he also recognized the artisan's right to sell the items he had crafted, protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution. Consequently, the Judge ruled that the authorities should not hinder the artisan from selling PoP idols but should ensure that these idols are not immersed in water bodies.