TAMIL NADU, INDIA, September 16, 2023 (Verdictum): The Madras High Court has come to the rescue of Ganesha statue makers and sellers in Tamil Nadu who have been facing the wrath of the state for the last few days for alleged violation of environment norms. A day before the Vishwakarma Jayanthi, who is particularly worshiped by artisans and workers as per the High Court, the High Court has held that the environmental norms that the state is trying to enforce will only apply to the immersion of statues and not to their sale, since sale may happen even for purposes other than immersion in public water bodies. The High Court granted relief to a Rajasthan-based artisan from the actions of the Tamil Nadu Police, who were preventing him from selling Vinayaka statues, and held that an artisan is entitled to sell the articles he creates, a right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. The Court described Lord Vinayaka as a symbol of luck.

The Bench of Justice G.R. Swaminathan was dealing with a Writ Petition filed by a skilled artisan, known for his exquisite Lord Vinayaka statues, who was encountering difficulties at the hands of the State authorities by preventing the artisan from selling his statues that had already been made. “If the statues are eco-friendly, they can be manufactured and sold and such activities cannot be stopped for any reason. If the police or the authorities indulge in any act of prevention, that would be rank illegality. They will have to answer if the aggrieved individual invokes public law remedy. Damages will have to be paid for the business loss caused,” the Court observed. Appearing for the Petitioner, Advocate V. Ramasubbu submitted before the High Court that the artisan had borrowed a substantial sum and if he is unable to sell the statues, he will be financially ruined. The Petitioner prayed for forbearing the State Authorities from interfering with his rights. On the other hand, appearing for the Respondents, Government Advocate S.S.Madhavan submitted that the restriction on the artisan was related to the use of Plaster of Paris in the statues, which raised environmental concerns and led to a complaint from the local Village Administrative Officer.

More on the ruling at source.