HYDERABAD: A division bench of the Telangana High Court on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, censured the State government and the Hyderabad Police Commissioner for not filing counter-affidavits on time. While hearing a contempt case filed for not implementing the court’s orders in a writ petition seeking to restrain people from immersing Ganesha idols in Hussainsagar lake, the bench observed: “The Police Commissioner has no time to file his counter-affidavit and the government filed the counter today at 10.25 am. If this is the case, when should the court pass its orders, as the Ganesha festival commences on September 10? And when can the order be given wide publicity?”
The division bench reserved its orders due to the non-filing of affidavits by the GHMC Commissioner and the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad. Both of them were supposed to apprise the court as to what measures they had taken to restrain devotees from immersing the idols in the lake, and the security arrangements made by the Hyderabad City Police to restrain devotees from thronging to Tank Bund. A bench comprising Acting Chief Justice MS Ramachandra Rao and Justice T Vinod Kumar heard the case on Tuesday.
When Spl Government Pleader (GP) Radhiv Reddy informed the court that the GHMC Commissioner filed the counter at 10.15 am that day while the Commissioner of Police was yet to file his counter, the bench observed: “If the State is not interested in apprising this court as to what steps it has taken to curtail pollution in Hussainsagar lake, then this court will pronounce its orders.”
Radhiv Reddy informed the court that the GHMC and the HMDA would distribute 75,000 and 1 lakh clay idols respectively. He stated that 25 small ponds had been created in the GHMC area where devotees could immerse idols. Apart from this, baby ponds have also been created and the GHMC will clear the debris accumulated in the ponds immediately after the immersions, he said.
PCB told to use its powers
The bench questioned Shiva Kumar, standing counsel for the PCB, as to why the civic body was permitting devotees to immerse the idols made of plaster of paris (POP) in the Hussainsagar lake, when POP was not permitted to be used under the PCB’s laws. “When the statute confers powers to you, you should stick to the powers and implement the law. By not doing so, you are abrogating your duties,” the ACJ observed.
The bench questioned senior counsel L Ravichander, appearing for the Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samithi which is organising the festival in the city, as to how it could justify permitting thousands of devotees to throng Tank Bund during this festival, which was recently renovated and refurbished by the State government by spending lakhs of rupees of tax payers’ money. “The huge congregation of people on Tank Bund can destroy and damage the newly created pavements,” the ACJ observed.