SC quashes NGT or­der on ‘si­lence zone’ at Amar­nath

Nanak film: No SC re­lief for SGPC

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - | POLITICS POLICY - NEWS NET­WORK

TIMES New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Mon­day quashed the or­der of Na­tional Green Tri­bunal (NGT) declar­ing Amar­nath cave shrine a si­lence zone and pro­hibit­ing re­li­gious of­fer­ings be­yond the en­try point.

In a bid to pre­serve the ecosen­si­tive Amar­nath cave shrine in south Kash­mir Hi­malayas, the NGT took suo motu cog­ni­sance of noise pol­lu­tion near the shrine and passed a slew of di­rec­tions in­clud­ing declar­ing the area a ‘si­lence zone’ say­ing it would be help­ful in pre­vent­ing avalanches and main­tain­ing its pris­tine na­ture.

It had taken up the Amar­nath is­sue while deal­ing with a plea re­lat­ing to stop­ping the use of horses and ponies in Vaishno Devi shrine premises in Jammu.

Chal­leng­ing the or­der, Amar­nath Shrine Board ap­proached the SC rais­ing ques­tion on how could NGT in­ter­fere in the age-old tra­di­tion fol­lowed by devo­tees vis­it­ing the holy shrine. Se­nior ad­vo­cate Mukul Ro­hatgi con­tended that the NGT or­der was against re­li­gious sen­ti­ments of the peo­ple and pleaded that it should be quashed. How court tri­bunal re­strain devo­tees not to have “prasad” with them, he said.

A bench of Jus­tices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, af­ter a brief hear­ing, quashed the NGT or­der. It, how­ever, asked the J&K govern­ment to place be­fore it a plan to phase The

Shi­ro­mani Gur­d­wara Pra­band­hak Com­mit­tee (SGPC), the top tem­po­ral body of Sikhs, made a fresh at­tempt on Mon­day to stall re­lease of film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ cit­ing the body’s 15 year-old res­o­lu­tion ban­ning por­trayal of Sikh Gu­rus, their im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­bers and ‘Panj Pyare’ in films. Se­nior ad­vo­cate P S Pat­walia re­it­er­ated that de­pic­tion of Gu­rus in films went against Sikhism. A bench headed by CJI Di­pak Misra re­fused to in­ter­fere with the film’s re­lease and said, “To or­der that no one should write or make a film in ven­er­a­tion of the Guru, can we en­force it? No re­li­gion can say, no one is per­mit­ted to write a book on it.” out use of horses and ponies in Vaishno Devi shrine and in­tro­duce bat­tery op­er­ated ve­hi­cles to carry devo­tees.

The bench also stayed the NGT or­der slap­ping a fine of Rs 50 lakh on the state govern­ment for not fram­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion plan for around 4,400 porters who carry pil­grims on horses and mules to the shrine.

Ad­di­tional so­lic­i­tor gen­eral Manin­der Singh and lawyer M Shoeb Alam, ap­pear­ing for the state, told the bench that mo­torable track had been con­structed and bat­tery op­er­ated ve­hi­cles in­tro­duced for pil­grims. They said a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion plan for porters had been framed but it was wait­ing for cab­i­net ap­proval.

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