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Skill can't be restricted to a particular age group: HC

Quashes govt order restraining registered photographers due to age constraints

Post by Syed Rukaya on Saturday, December 17, 2022

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Srinagar, Dec 16: Quashing the government orders restraining registered photographers from carrying out their professional duties in tourist areas due to age constraints, the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh Friday observed that the skill cannot be restricted to a particular age especially in today’s advanced era.
The court of Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi while quashing the orders noted that the guidelines have been issued by the government and the court cannot lose sight of the fact that the government can place necessary restrictions for smooth functioning of a particular trade on the desired levels.
"However, such restrictions must not be unreasonable particularly when the same are aimed at to regulate the trade of unemployed skilled youth of a troubled area whose livelihood is dependent on such trade," the bench observed.
The court passed the observations in a batch of petitions filed by the photographers, who are registered with the Tourism Department challenging two government orders issued on February, 23, 2018 and June, 07, 2018 by Commissioner Secretary to the Government, Floriculture Department pertaining to regulate the photographers’ trade in the gardens and parks of the Floriculture department.
The petitioners submitted that being the registered photographers with the Tourism Department under the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Registration of Tourism Act, 1978/82, they have been earning their livelihood by carrying out their professional activities in different tourist areas.
In an order issued on February 23, 2018, the government had prescribed the age of the photographers between 21-40 years for first permission and not more than 45 years in case of renewal on 1st January of the year in which the application was made.
As per the guidelines, permission for photography was to be granted initially for a period of one year, which can be renewed from year to year on deposition of fee.
The guidelines also mentioned that an annual fee of Rs.10,000 was to be charged for each permission, to be deposited with the Floriculture Department in lump sum at the time of issuance of permission and on each renewal which shall be due on 1st April of every year.
"In case of non-submission of annual renewal fee of Rs. 10,000 no permission shall be granted/renewed," it stated.
The petitioners after throwing a challenge to the stipulations before the court, the respondents modified its earlier order and issued a new order on June, 07, 2018 by virtue of which the eligibility in respect of age was modified and enhanced to 60 years instead of 45 as provided earlier.
The court recorded that the conditions of the guidelines vis-à-vis the upper age limit and the deposition of annual fee of Rs. 10,000 appear to be wholly unreasonable as the skill cannot be restricted to a particular age especially in today’s advanced era and it does not further appear to be achieving any kind of object not to speak of a reasonable object.
Justice Kazmi noted that the condition in respect of deposition of annual fee of Rs. 10,000 also appears to be unreasonable as the petitioners are admittedly performing their professional duties in the tourist areas and are solely dependent upon the tourist inflow which obviously lasts for only a few months.
"Therefore, a seasonal worker, depending solely on tourist inflow, cannot logically be earning as handsome an income as would bear the annual deposition of Rs. 10,000 for maintaining his registration," the court observed.
Allowing the pleas, the court directed the respondents to review the condition envisaging deposition of annual fee of Rs. 10,000 as the same is appearing to be "harsh" too.

The court also took note of the communication issued by the Director, Floriculture department Kashmir, addressed to the government counsel while the judgment in the case was reserved reflecting that the authorities would be reviewing certain conditions of the said guidelines.
The court left it open to the government to take a fresh look at the guidelines and pass any modification deemed appropriate in the facts and circumstances of the cases, taking into account the observations made by the Court in the instant judgment.
The court passed the directions after petitioner counsel, Arif Sikander submitted that the guidelines are not only irrational but unreasonable and illogical too as the photography skill cannot be restricted to a particular age.
He submitted that persons above 60 years upto 70-80 years can click a photograph with utmost ease provided he is otherwise physically fit to do so.
He further submitted that the trade of the petitioners is solely the concern of the Tourism department and the respondents have absolutely no role to play to regulate such trade

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