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HC dismisses plea to ban kite-flying, says it’s a cultural activity

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The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to issue any direction to ban kite-flying in the Capital but directed the city government and police to ensure compliance of orders banning sale of synthetic ‘manja’.

A Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad noted that kite-flying is a “cultural activity” and can be associated with “religious activity”.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a Delhi resident, Sanser Pal Singh, who sought a complete ban on flying, sale, purchase, storage and transportation of kites,  as many people and birds are killed or injured due to accidents caused by the glass-coated strings.

The court directed the Delhi government and the city police to ensure strict compliance with an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banning the use and sale of synthetic thread, popularly known ‘Chinese manja’, which is coated with crushed glass or metals.

During the hearing, the Delhi government and police’s counsel said there is already a 2017 government notification banning the sale, production, storage, supply, import and use of all forms of ‘manja’ — plastic, nylon or any other synthetic thread.

The counsel said since 2017, 255 persons have been booked under different sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Environment (Protection) Act for violating the ban. The Deputy Commissioner of Police will issue another order specifying that the use of synthetic ‘manja’ is banned in Delhi, said the counsel.

Festival value

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma and standing counsel Anil Soni, representing the Central government, said the prayer for banning kite-flying cannot be allowed as cultural and religious values are attached to it and it is the use of Chinese ‘manja’ which needs to be banned.

“This is a festival in India. It is also connected to religion. You need to be careful while making a prayer,” the law officer said.

In July 2017, the NGT ordered a countrywide ban on ‘Chinese manja’, noting that its use has not only resulted in injuries to birds, animals and human beings, but also caused fatal accidents.

The petitioner, Mr. Singh, stated in his plea that he met with an accident in 2006 when he got entangled in a kite string. To stop the thread from reaching his throat, he pushed it with his hand and ended up with a severed finger. His plea, filed through advocate Yogesh Swroop, highlighted that the Delhi police have registered at least 18 FIRs related to accidents involving kite strings in the past five years.

Mr. Singh argued that a complete ban on kite-flying, sale, purchase and storage is the only solution as it is difficult to catch the culprit or fix the responsibility when an accident occurs due to a kite string.

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