Citizens using plastic bags will be penalised: Maharashtra government tells HC
The court was hearing a bunch of petition filed by associations of plastic and thermocol manufacturersUpdated: Apr 13, 2018 12:36 IST
Ending the confusion over implementation of plastic and thermocol ban in Maharashtra, the state government on Thursday clarified before the Bombay high court that the ban has come into force and those found using the banned items will be penalised.
The statement came even as the division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla questioned as to how the citizens will know that the material used by them is banned under the March 23 notification issued by the environment department. The notification permits use of only high quality food grade virgin Bisphenol-A free PET or PETE bottles.
“There is no way an ordinary citizen will know that the PET bottle that he is carrying with him contravenes the notification,” said the bench referring to the March 23 notification issued by Maharashtra environment department.
The comment came after the bench noticed that the state government has granted three months to manufacturers, distributors, traders, etc., for disposing of their existing stock, but no such time was granted to users to dispose of banned items lying with or being used by them even today.
The bench inquired as to what will happen if a person is found today in possession of a PET bottle contravening the notification. “He will be penalised,” responded EP Bharucha, who represented the government. “How will this stop otherwise,” said the senior advocate, adding, “Once manufacturing stops, the use will automatically come to end.”
He clarified that after the notification the manufacturers and other traders in the line of supply cannot dispose of their existing stock by selling it in Maharashtra, but they can only export it either to some other state or abroad, indicating that the use of banned items and articles has come into force on March 23 itself.
The court was hearing a bunch of petition filed by associations of plastic and thermocol manufacturers challenging the March 23 notification imposing complete ban on manufacturing, storing, transporting, distributing etc. and use of plastic bags, disposable items made of plastic and thermocol, plastic wrappers, certain plastic packaging material.
They contended that the state government had no power to impose complete ban by invoking provisions of the Maharashtra Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 2006, as the enactment itself does not contemplate banning plastic items, but merely provides for regulating it.
Besides, it was also argued on their behalf that the 2006 Act requires the state legislature to first fix norms and the executive can issue orders like the March 23 notification only in consonance with the norms, and since no such norms are in place in Maharashtra, the government could not have imposed the blanked prohibition, affecting livelihood of lakhs of persons.
The state government has, however, maintained that the law empowers it to regulate, regulation would include imposing complete ban and the notification itself contains norms stipulated under the 2006 Act.
The court has now posted the petitions for passing interim order on Friday.
Taking stern note of the large gathering of plastic and thermocol manufacturers thronging the high court premises and creating a chaotic situation by causing inconvenience to court staff, lawyers and litigants, the bench on Thursday directed the high court registry to take up the issue with acting chief justice and the committee of judges dealing with high court security, so that appropriate orders – possibly preventing crowds entering the high court premises – can be passed to prevent repetition such incidents.
First Published: Apr 13, 2018 10:21 IST