HC refuses to stay plastic ban; asks plastic industry to go to Green Tribunal

Karnataka High Court. Pic: Akshatha M

The Karnataka High Court has dismissed the petition filed by plastic manufacturers and traders challenging the State government’s decision to ban single use and non-recyclable plastic products across the State, based on technical grounds.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice Ravi Malimath dismissed the plastic manufacturers plea to grant a stay on the plastic ban. The court cited that an alternative legal remedy lies before the petitioners to question the government notification banning the manufacture, supply, sale and use of plastic products. The alternative remedy lies in the form of National Green Tribunal or the appellate remedy under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

The State government had issued the plastic ban order on March 11th, 2016, under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act. Following the ban notification, plastic manufacturers led by Canara Plastics Manufacturers and Traders had filed a petition in the High Court recently, challenging the plastic ban.

In fact, the State government, during the previous hearings, had contended before the High Court that the two petitions filed by plastic manufacturers are not maintainable and their remedy lies before the NGT or the appellate authority. The State’s contention of remedy for plastic case lying before the NGT was with reference to the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Sanghatan and others v/s Union of India.

The Supreme Court in its judgment had said that environmental issues and matters covered under the NGT Act, Schedule 1, should be instituted and litigated before the National Green Tribunal. The government has imposed plastic ban under Environment Protection Act, 1986 and the Act comes under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

The High Court, after hearing both sides, upheld the contention of the State government by dismissing the case, while keeping the issues open to be heard in other judicial platform.

‘Plastic ban has reduced plastic waste by 10%’

During the hearing on Tuesday, Advocate General Madhusudhan R Naik, appearing on behalf of the State said that several studies have proved that environment hazards caused by plastic could not be controlled even after taking several measures. He also cited various sections of the Environment Protection Act to affirm the power of the Central government to frame rules and how the State government has made the rules in tune with the Act’s provisions.

To the claims made by the manufacturers that the ban will lead to closure of the industry and job loss, the Advocate General said that several plastic products are exempted from the ban and plastic manufacturers can continue to manufacture those products.

“During last 15 days of plastic ban implementation, there has been reduction on plastic waste up to 10 per cent in Bengaluru. The situation will improve in next one month if the ban continues. It is not public who have appealed to the court requesting to lift the ban. The plea  is from the group with business interest,” he pointed.

Referring to the public objections and suggestions to the draft notification that the State government received, the  AG said that over 1,000 objections were from the labourers in plastic manufacturing industry. Whereas, public have suggested to include even other plastic products to the banned list, he said.

Senior counsel Udaya Holla appearing for the petitioners said that plastic is not a pollutant. In all the countries where plastic has been banned, it has been a failure because they were unable to find a suitable alternative to plastic.

Speaking to Citizen Matters, Canara Plastic Manufacturers and Traders Association President B A Nazeer said that the plastic manufacturers will take a decision on moving to the NGT soon after receiving the order copy. “We will definitely go to NGT. We are now waiting for the court order copy,” he said.

 

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Akshatha M
About Akshatha M 218 Articles
Akshatha M is a Staff Journalist at Citizen Matters. She tweets at @akshata1.

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