The court’s orders came on December 1 on a Public Interest Litigation filed by budding lawyer Priyansha Gupta, a third-year student of BA (LLB) from Bennett University.
In its ruling, the court asked why, despite the notification to ban the manufacture and use of plastic bags in the country, it was still being used in the state.
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Priyansha, in her petition, had argued that “Rajasthan was declared a plastic-free zone in 2010. However, even after 11 years, plastic formed a major portion of the state’s garbage dumps. In 2016, the Centre under Plastic Waste Management Rules, had banned single use plastic bags. However, Rajasthan has still not implemented the ban properly.”
Before filing her petition, Priyansha went around the city of Jaipur documenting the extent of the problem. She took photographs of plastic bags littering the streets, choking drains and cluttering garbage dumps. She also researched the reports filed by the Rajasthan Government regarding the implementation of Centre’s Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
Finally, ready with all the documents, Priyansha filed her petition on October 5 in Rajasthan high court. She also chose to argue the case herself.
“I went to the court for the first time and being the petitioner-in-person, I was very nervous, so-much-so, that while arguing I could only hear my heartbeat and nothing else,” Priyansha said.
She had reason to be nervous. Arguing the case for the government were the Additional Solicitor General RD Rastogi representing the Union of India, along with Mr. Anil Mehta, AAG.
The arguments went on for 20 to 25 minutes.
Priyansha’s efforts bore fruit as the two-judge bench delivered a judgment in her favour on December 1.
In its order, the court ordered the state of Rajasthan to comply with the notifications and enforce a complete ban on plastic bags.
A fifth-generation lawyer from her family, Priyansha now wants to take up several other public interest issues. These include use of Green Cigarettes by the youth which don’t even have a warning on them, and the service charge levied by restaurants on customers.