The Bombay High Court on Friday refused to stay the state government’s decision to ban plastic items. The court, prima facie, held that the prospects of the government’s notification on plastic ban is “reasonable”. The court also passed an order preventing the prosecution of consumers for three months. Granting interim relief to the manufactures of plastic items, the court asked them to make a representation before the state government within a week.
The court was hearing four petitions filed by the Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association, PET Container Manufacturers Association, All India Plastic Manufacturers Association and Thermacol Fabricator and Decoration Association.
A division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice R I Chagla directed the petitioners to give their representations to a committee, constituted by the government, to finalise the draft of the notification bringing the ban into force. “We direct the committee to hear the representations of the petitioners and all other stakeholders and decide if any modification is required to be made to the notification,” the bench said.
The court has given a week’s time for the petitioners to make their representations and asked the state to take a decision on the representations by May 5. The court also passed an order on the government’s decision of giving consumers only a month to dispose of plastic items, while the manufactures and retailers have been given three months’ time. The court said that residents should also be given three months to dispose of the plastic and thermocol in their possession. “We direct the state government to ensure that no citizen found in possession of the banned items is prosecuted for a period of three months,” the court said, adding that the three months would be from the date of notification, which is March 23.
The court said that for three months, no resident will be prosecuted under Section 9 of the Maharashtra Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 2006, if found in possession of the banned items. The court said that people will not be in a position to dispose of the plastic items if proper provisions and facilities are not available. The court observed that it cannot ignore the adverse effects of plastic waste on the environment and said it is aware that the petitioners and people involved in such business may suffer loss due to the ban.
“We have to consider the impact of plastic waste on the environment and its effect thereof on citizens are harmful,” the court said, adding that they were not experts to deal with an issue, whether the waste of glass and metal has more impact than plastic.
The court also said that it does not feel that the ban will infringe upon the fundamental rights of the petitioners, adding that the manufacture, use and sale of plastic items have direct nexus with the creation of 1,200 tonnes of plastic waste everyday. The court took note of the submission of the state government, stating that plastic waste of nearly 1,200 metric tonne is generated per day and its disposal was not taking place in a scientific manner.