SRINAGAR: Has the government overridden the High Court’s order by allowing use of polythene in Jammu and Kashmir? Yes, say legal experts.
Through a service rules order, SRO-45, the forest ministry headed by Chaudhary Lal Singh recently permitted the manufacture, sale and use of polythene above 50 microns. The High Court had earlier issued directions to the government for a blanket ban on the use of polythene in the state.
In 2008, the forest department (SRO-182 dated June 18, 2008) imposed a ban on polythene bags within the territorial limits of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2012, a division bench of the court concurred that use of polythene bags should be banned.
Former Advocate General Issaq Qadri, who was part of the court case, told Kashmir Reader that the government cannot override the division bench’s judgment.
“They either should have approached the high court and asked for reconsideration, or challenged the judgment in the Supreme Court. A separate legislation can also have overruled it but the government has not done so. What the government has done is absolute contempt of court,” Issaq said.
“The departments which had to ensure the ban on polythene had to report before the court on periodic basis,” he added.
Environmental lawyer Nadeem Qadri said the new SRO is “illegal” and he would challenge it in court.
“I don’t understand how the government has done this. Next week my organisation will file a PIL questioning the legality of this order. I have already written a representation to the government asking its position. Next week I will move the court,” he said.
Commissioner Secretary to the Government for the forest, environment and ecology department, Muhammad Afzal, who issued the SRO revoking the ban, told Kashmir Reader that “It was done on the recommendations of the State Pollution Control Board. It is better that you speak to them.”
Chairman of the State Pollution Control Board, Ravi Kumar Kesar, said that the order was issued on the lines of similar orders being implemented in many states in India. When asked about the High Court’s orders, Ravi said he was busy in a meeting. Later he did respond to repeated calls.