The Supreme Court of India on October 30, 2018 modified its earlier order fixing a time slot of 8 pm to 10 pm for bursting firecrackers on Diwali. The apex court stated that the timing will be changed in places like Tamil Nadu and Puducherry but will not exceed two hours a day.
The decision was taken by a SC bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan. The bench also observed that the direction for permitting the use of green crackers was only meant for the Delhi-NCR region and not for pan India.
The ruling came while the top court was hearing several applications filed by the Tamil government and firecracker manufacturers seeking modification and clarification of its October 23 order.
The Tamil Nadu government had on October 29 urged the apex court to allow firecrackers to be burst on Diwali morning in accordance with religious practices in the state, besides the already permitted 8 pm to 10 pm period. The counsel appearing on behalf of the firecracker manufacturers told the court that it was not possible to come up with green crackers this Diwali since there was no set composition for manufacturing them.
The Supreme Court on October 23, 2018 decided not to impose a blanket ban on the sale and manufacture of firecrackers ahead of the popular Indian festival, Diwali.
The apex court, however, decided to allow the same with a set of stringent conditions. The SC bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan permitted the sale and manufacture of green and low emission crackers alone.
The Judgement: Key Highlights
• The top court ruled that only firecrackers with reduced emission and decibel levels will be permitted during all festivals.
• The court also ordered a ban on the online sale of firecrackers and put a restraint on e-commerce portals from selling them. The responsibility of the same has been placed on the companies.
• Should the e-commerce companies be used for the sale of the banned firecrackers then, the concerned company will be held for contempt.
• The apex court has also fixed a time limit for the bursting of the crackers. On Diwali, people will only be allowed to burn crackers between 8 pm and 10 pm. The time limit for New Year and Christmas has been set from 11:45 pm to 12:15 am.
• The court has directed the Central Pollution Control Board to monitor air quality 7 days before and 7 days after Diwali.
• Further, the court has permitted bursting of crackers in only designated community areas in Delhi-NCR identified by Central Pollution Control Board.
The Supreme Court’s directions apply to all festivals and functions such as marriages.
Only crackers with reduced emission would be permitted to be manufactured. Hence, noisy crackers such as ladis or other chain firecrackers will be banned.
The sale of the crackers will also only happen through licence holders. In case of sale of the banned firecrackers, the station house officers of the police station concerned will be held liable.
The Supreme Court’s order came on a plea seeking a ban on the manufacture and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.
The top court had earlier on August 28 reserved its order in this case after hearing the petitioners, the firecracker manufacturers as well as the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The court had earlier opposed a complete ban on firecrackers and said there is a need to take into account all aspects including the fundamental right of livelihood of the firecracker manufacturers.
This followed an appeal by the firecracker manufacturers who told the court that the use of crackers should not be completely banned as it will cost thousands their livelihood.
They also contested that crackers are not the sole reason for the increase in air pollution and factors like wind and temperature also contribute to it.
India is home to the ten most polluted cities in the world. In October 2017, the Supreme Court had imposed a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi NCR. This ban was meant to test the effectiveness of such a ban on pollution levels if any.
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