madras high court

Madras High Court: In an appeal filed by the District Collector and police (appellants) against the order dated 16-09-2023 passed by the Single judge, wherein it was held that the respondent cannot be prevented from manufacturing or selling the idols using plaster of paris as the guidelines will be only regarding immersion of idols, the division bench of S.S. Sundar and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy while ordering an interim stay on the impugned order, said that the appellants may take appropriate action against anyone to prevent manufacturing, selling or immersion of idols made of plaster of paris or plastics etc. in adherence to the revised guidelines.


The respondent in the writ petition had prayed for a direction to the District Collector to not interfere with his right of profession/business in selling idols inclusive of Lord Vinayaga idols which has been guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of Constitution of India.

The respondent stated that he migrated with his family, for making ornaments, articles using clay, washable cooler powders, etc. He also admitted that he is making idols using plaster of paris, which is prohibited under Revised Guidelines for Idol Immersion by the Central Pollution Control Board, dated 12-05-2020.


The Court noted that the Clause 2 of the Revised Guidelines, dated 12-05-2020, issued by the Central Pollution Control Board, specifically refers to permission of manufacturing idols only if it is made up of natural, biodegradable, eco-friendly raw materials without any toxic, inorganic raw materials. There is a specific ban on manufacturing idols by plaster of paris. It also noted that while granting licenses or permission to the idol makers a list of permitted and non-permitted substances to be used for making / colouring / decorating idols has been provided to the Idol makers or craftsman or artisans.

Concerning the submission of the respondent that in the absence of statute prohibiting any license and regulating the idol manufacturers using Plaster of Paris, the guidelines will not have a statutory force, The Court after taking note of Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, said that this provision only indicates that the Central Government may issue any direction irrespective of any other law. However, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 specifically empower the Central Pollution Control Board as well as the State Pollution Control Board to lay down standards and to advice the Central and Law Enforcing Agencies to prevent or control water and air pollution. The Central Pollution Control Board as well as the State Pollution Control Board are bound to follow the directions of Government, there is no direction by the Central or State Governments permitting manufacture of idols using Plaster of Paris. Thus, the Court rejected the argument of the respondent.

The matter will be taken up next week.

[District Collector v Prakash, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 6085, Order dated 17-09-2023]

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