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  1. 1. Details 1 of 3 High Court orders slew of measures to enforce polythene ban in JK Shopkeepers, drivers found violating law to be tried for Contempt of Court D A RASHID Srinagar, Nov 5: Expressing displeasure over the menace of polythene still plaguing the State, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday ordered several measures to enforce the ban on ground. “ The object of this Public Interest Litigation is to eradicate the menace of polythene from the territory of the State of J& K. Compliance reports, as filed from time to time, suggest a very horrible state of affairs and despite all measures taken by the Stale Government and despite repeated directions from this Court, violations are unabated,” a Division Bench comprising Justices Muhammad Yaqoob Mir and Muzaffar Hussain Attar said in its order. “ The status reports as received from time to time in compliance to the directions of this Court indicate that the circulation of polythene in the market has not stopped despite making its ban public by the concerned authorities by issuing pamphlets and other measures,” the Court said. The Court said the polythene has not disappeared from the market but it appears that the shopkeepers and the stockists are neither abiding by the law and rules nor are getting affected by the directions of this Court. “ We direct all the District Magistrates to intensify the checking and in the process when polythene bags are seized from the shopkeepers or the stockists, their particulars shall be submitted along with the status report so that they can be proceeded against for violating the court directions,” the Court said. The Court directed the District Magistrates to make public through media that the polythene carry bags, if found and seized from any shopkeeper or stockists shall face the consequence and contempt proceedings shall be initiated against them for violation of court directions. The Court said it is a matter of concern that the owners/ drivers of vehicles with impunity continue to violate the laws and in effect violate the directions of this Court. The Court passed these directions after perusing the compliance reports filed by the government. About the number of trucks intercepted and the quantity of polythene seized 11/6/2013 5:47 PM
  2. 2. Details 2 of 3 at the check points mentioned in the latest status report, the court said it indicates that the Court directions are not taken seriously by the violators, more particularly by the transporters. Amicus Curie, Z A Shah, suggested that there should be some more direction in order to check the vehicles carrying polythene and the violators should be dealt with sternly suggesting that there should be notification and display of signboards to inform the general masses particularly the transporters and drivers that if any person carries polythene or polythene bags he shall be liable for action under the Contempt of Courts Act. “ The suggestion in the given scenario is quite genuine” the Court said. In compliance of the Court directions to explore feasibility of installation of technical/ electronic equipments and creation of electronic infrastructure to detect illegal movement of banned polythene into the State, the government stated that it has constituted two committees. After the Court pointedly observed as to whether the committees constituted include the experts/ persons having sound technical knowledge about scanners, Advocate General submitted that there was no such technical expert of scanners. After Z A Shah pointed out that two members of the committee are not technical experts, the court said, “ The Committee has to be of technical experts, therefore we direct that the two members be deleted from the Committee and in their place two technical experts shall be included.” The Court also said it is the responsibility of Commissioner Sales Tax to check and control the entry of polythene and polythene bags into J& K. “ It may have certain difficulties but to overcome such difficulties the Committees have been constituted and it is for them to work out as how to install the scanners and other electronic equipments so as to enable the authorities concerned to check and scan the goods which are entering into the State of J& K,” the Court said. “ They can’t be allowed to say that it is not their primary duty. Of course it is their duty and they must ensure complete ban on polythene, whatever polythene has entered into the State, same is taken care of by the authorities who are periodically submitting their reports and the process of seizing the polythene and polythene bags is in progress, same is to be seriously monitored by the concerned authorities,” the Court ordered. After noting violations as pointed out in the status report, the Court said the respondent authorities shall display signboards at the entry points more particularly at Lakhanpur and Lower Munda that any vehicle carrying polythene and polythene bags shall be dealt with under law and owners and drivers shall be liable for contempt of court. The Court said henceforth any vehicle seized for carrying polythene and polythene materials shall not be released until further orders from this Court. “ The violators shall be sternly dealt with for violating the Court directions and the laws,” the Court said. The Court directed that the same be given wide publicity through print and 11/6/2013 5:47 PM
  3. 3. Details 3 of 3 electronic media so as to make all concerned more particularly the transporters and drivers aware that they shall desist from carrying polythene or polythene material in their vehicles, otherwise to face the serious consequences. The Court directed the Commissioner, Sales Tax, to file affidavit to indicate as to how much of the seized polythene has been handed over to the State Pollution Control Board and Secretary Pollution Control Board shall also file affidavit to indicate how much seized polythene has been received from the Sales Tax Department or other sources and what action has been taken thereon. “ Why the Commissioner Sales Tax Department has not displayed the signboards, needs to be explained. Secretary, State Pollution Control Board is also required to explain as to why till dale he has not responded to the letter dated 15.10.2013. Both officers shall file affidavit so as to clarify their position by or before next date,” the Court said. Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation, G N Qasba submitted that he has taken various measures and effective steps for making the Srinagar city polythene- free. “ He shall file an affidavit by the next date of hearing as to how he has dealt with the people who are dealing with polythene or who have stocked the polythene,” the Court said. The AG told the Court that the expert committee has not finalized any proposal vis- a- vis the alternate to polythene carry bags, and sought more time. The court granted three more weeks. In its compliance report, Srinagar Municipal Corporation has filed its status report stating that for spreading awareness, they have issued pamphlets and have also published various notices and there has been a very good response. State Pollution Control Board filed a report which reveals that the Board has seized 859 quintals of polythene carry bags out of which 330 quintals have been confiscated and the confiscated material has been shredded. “ The Pollution Control Board shall file an affidavit so as to show as to how confiscation proceedings and disposal of remaining 529 quintals are carried into effect,” the Court directed. The Board shall also repeat circulation of the pamphlets under the signature of Secretary, Pollution Control Board, both in English as well as in Urdu version among the masses. 11/6/2013 5:47 PM