Madhya Pradesh High Court issues directives/suggestions to curb ‘Plastic Pollution’

MP High Court puts bail condition: Asks the arrested person to “Go for counseling”

This petition is preferred for public cause and has been treated as Public Interest Litigation, whereby public cause was raised to protect the environment from plastic carry bags. Under Article 32, 51A and 136 of the Constitution of India, Rule of locus standi is not a rigid rule, rather, we can say, in defining the rule of locus standi in PIL no “rigid litmus test” can be applied since broad contours of PIL are still developing apace seemingly with divergent views on several aspects of the concept of this developing law and discovering jurisdiction leading to a rapid transformation of judicial activism with a far-reaching change both in the nature and form of the judicial process.

Facts of the case

The petitioner has sought relief of implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 in whole of State of Madhya Pradesh and has also prayed that respondents be directed to implement notification in its letter and spirit in the State of Madhya Pradesh and in terms of said notification, prayed to ban production, transport, storage, sale and use of plastic carry bags/polythene. Further relief sought is to initiate imposition of fine against the wrong doers.

Municipal Corporation, Gwalior has submitted through its return that all possible steps are being taken by the Municipal Corporation and Municipal Corporation is regularly seizing the carry bags from various fruit vendors, grocery shops, and sweet shops and with the help of public they have spread message of ‘Swaccha Bharat’. In support of its version, the Municipal Corporation has produced photographs before this court. Pollution Control Board and State in their return have submitted that the main responsibility is of the Municipal Corporation to meet these challenges and get the rules implemented. The expression ‘litigation’ means a legal action including all proceedings therein, initiated in a court of law with the purpose of enforcing a right or seeking a remedy. Therefore, lexically the expression ‘PIL’ means a legal action initiated in a court of law for the enforcement of public interest or general interest belonging to public or a class of the community, whereby their legal rights or liabilities are affected. The dominant object of PIL is to ensure observance of the provisions of the Constitution and law which can be achieved with permitting the cause of community and disadvantaged groups or public interest by representing a person, who is acting bonafide and having sufficient interest in maintaining an action for judicial redressal for public injury to put the judicial machinery in motion like “actiopopularis” of Roman Law, wherein any citizen/person can bring such an action in respect of a public delict. The present petition is filed as Public Interest Litigation. The concept of “Public Interest Litigation” (PIL) is in consonance with the principles enshrined in Article 39A of the Constitution of India to protect and deliver prompt social justice. Prior to the year 1980, the locus standi was prominent in India Judicial System and only aggrieved party would approach to the Courts of justice. After the emergency era, the High Court reached out to the people devising the means for any person of the public to approach the Courts seeking legal remedy where public interestis involved. There are various instances when letters and telegrams addressed to the Courts have been taken up as PILs and were considered. Two Professors of the University of Delhi sent a letter to the Court seeking enforcement of the Constitutional Rights of the inmates at protective home in Agra who were living in inhuman and degrading conditions. In Ms. Veena Sethi vs. State of Bihar & Ors the Court treated a letter addressed to a Judge of the Court by the Free Legal Aid Committee in Hazaribagh (Bihar) as a writ petition.

Rule of law is the primary essential of the democracy. However, any person filing the petition must have to prove to the satisfaction of the Court that the petition is being filed for the public interest and not as a frivolous litigation for pecuniary gain. In the case of frivolous PIL, the Court is having jurisdiction to impose substantial costs to the petitioner. Public Interest Litigation” gives a wider description to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India. It functions as an effective measure for changes in the society for its welfare.

The concept of Public Interest Litigation

“Public Interest Litigation” is known as “Social Interest Litigation”. The concept of “Public Interest Litigation” was conceived by Hon. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer in Socialist Karamchari Sangh (Railway) vs. Union of India, wherein an unregistered association of workers was permitted to institute a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution for redressal of their common grievances. In other words, “Public Interest Litigation” may be moved by public spirited citizen to the Court for the public cause by invoking writ jurisdiction of the superior courts. The traditional rule of locus standi that a person whose right is affected alone can file a petition which has been laid down by the Apex Court in various decisions. Now the Courts permit “Public Interest Litigations” at the instances of public spirited citizens for the enforcement of constitutional legal rights.In various judgments passed by the Apex Court, the issue of PIL was widely considered and PILs have achieved the place of importance in our legal system. Mumbai Kamgar Sangh vs. M/s Abdulbhai Faizullabhai and others; M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India ;Parmanand Katara v. Union of India; Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan,; and, Javed v. State of Haryana, following basic requirements are to be seen at the time of verifying the bonafides of a person, group, organization filing PIL before the Court having jurisdiction :-

  • Whether the petitioner is bonafide and whether he has/had filed any PIL for any other cause before any competent Court?
  • Whether the petition filed sounds of bonafide ?
  • No petition was filed earlier for the same cause.
  • No petition was earlier decided by the Court for the same cause.
  • Whether cause relates to poor and needy persons in general suffering from violation of their fundamental rights?
  • The petition is not filed for personal gain or private profit or political motive or oblique consideration?
  • The petition is not vexatious petition under the colour of PIL .
  • The petition is not filed for vindicating any personal grievance.
  • The petition is not filed with intention to abuse process of law.
  • Petitioner is not a proxy of others.
  • The petition is not filed for extraneous motivation or for glare of publicity.

In the light of above, banning of polythene/plastic bags has to be considered as a most significant moment of life. If any material which is generally used is not biodegradable then the whole ecosystem will be affected and indirectly will affect all living organisms of the world.

Properties of Polythene

  • Mechanical properties of polyethylene: Polyethylene is of low strength, hardness and rigidity, but has a high ductility and impact strength as well as low friction. It shows strong creep under persistent force, which can be reduced by addition of short fibers. It feels waxy when touched.
  • Thermal properties: The commercial applicability of polyethylene is limited by its comparably low melting point. For common commercial grades of medium- and high-density polyethylene the melting point is typically in the range 120 to 180°C (248 to 356°F). The melting point for average, commercial, low-density polyethylene is typically 105 to 115°C (221 to 239°F). These temperatures vary strongly with the type of polyethylene.
  • Chemical properties: Polyethylene consists of nonpolar, saturated, high molecular weight hydrocarbons. Therefore, its chemical behavior is similar to paraffin. The individual macromolecules are not covalently linked. Because of their symmetric molecular structure, they tend to crystallize; overall polyethylene is partially crystalline. Higher crystalline increases density and mechanical and chemical stability

Polyethylene absorbs almost no water. The gas and water vapour permeability (only polar gases) is lower than for most plastics; oxygen, carbon dioxide and flavorings on the other hand can pass it easily. PE can become brittle when exposed to sunlight, carbon black is usually used as a UV stabilizer.

(iv) Electrical properties of polyethylene: Polyethylene is a good electrical insulator. It offers good electrical treeing resistance; however, it becomes easily electrostatically charged (which can be reduced by additions of graphite, carbon black or antistatic agents).

  • Optical properties: Depending on thermal history and film thickness PE can vary between almost clear (transparent), milky-opaque (translucent) or opaque. LDPE thereby owns the greatest, LLDPE slightly less and HDPE the least transparency. Transparency is reduced by crystallites if they are larger than the wavelength of visible light.

Suggestions and directions

  • Citizens should be made aware of the causes and effects of plastic pollution and how to prevent it.
  • A campaign must be started to immediately stop using non-biodegradable plastic/polythene.
  • Citizens should not purchase single use plastic/ polythene water bags etc.
  • Citizens should use cloth / jute made bags for carrying purchases.
  • They may also themselves prepare paper bags from daily newspaper of their house.
  • Citizens should not embed any plastic/ polythene waste in soil/ land.
  • Citizens (parents/teachers) should teach children not to use plastic bottles/ tiffins in schools/ park/ malls etc.
  • Citizens should cooperate in this task with different Authorities of the Government.
  • The State shall pass direction to Schools and Colleges to stop use of plastic immediately.
  • The State shall issue directions to the industries to take immediate steps to stop the production and use of single use plastic.
  • The State and its instrumentalities shall issue directives ensuring manufacturing and marketing of carry bags and packets made of non-plastic bio-degradable material on highly subsidized rates to be affordable to the common man.
  • For this purpose, the State should encourage the small scale industry to manufacture and market such bags/packets by establishing necessary plants for this purpose in adequate number in all districts in the State of M.P.
  • The State shall install adequate number of Water Dispensers in the city area to make available pure water to the citizens.
  • The State should install single use plastic bottles crushing machines in every possible public places in adequate number and on crushing particular numbers of such bottles, deposit return scheme may be started.

In case of non-compliance or if the compliance is found to be deficient, the Principal Registrar is hereby directed to list this case before the Bench under caption ‘Direction’.

(SheelNagu)                          (Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava) (Yog)

Judge                                                        Judge

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

I am Soma Singh from Sharda University School of Law, my interest areas are Corporate law, jurisprudence and ADR. I describe myself as an ambivert. Enjoys reading mythological tales