SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO PUT BLANKET BAN ON USE OF FIRECRACKERS, DESPITE AIR POLLUTION REACHING UNIMAGINABLE LEVELS
The Supreme Court Bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan had reserved its order on 28th August, 2018 in a petition calling for countrywide ban on bursting fire-crackers, citing the ill effects on environment and public health. The activists had petitioned the Supreme Court for a complete ban on fireworks in light of rising air pollution levels in New Delhi, ahead of Diwali.
The Supreme Court in its order dated 23rd October, 2018 refused to impose a nationwide blanket ban on sale of firecrackers. The verdict came in response to a plea seeking a ban on manufacturing and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.
For informational purposes, the Supreme Court had, on 9th October, 2017, temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali last year.In wake of the temporary ban, the traders sought permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali last year. In their contention, firecrackers manufacturers had argued that the use of firecrackers should not be completely banned, rather their use should be strictly regulated.
The Court observed that Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution applies to both segments of people (firecracker manufacturers and general public) and it needs to maintain a balance while considering a countrywide ban on firecrackers. The Court said that it is important to take into account all aspects, including the fundamental right of livelihood of firecracker manufacturers and the right to health of over 1.3 billion people of the country.
The Order dated 23rd October, 2018 of the Supreme Court thus does not permit a complete ban on the use of firecrackers, but imposes the following conditions and restrictions:
Online sale of firecrackers is banned. The e-commerce websites would be in contempt of court if they are found selling fire-crackers.
Sale of firecrackers will happen only through licensed vendors. And only those firecrackers that are within noise pollution limits set in July 2005 verdict, In Re: Noise Pollution v. Unknown, are allowed.
Only “low polluting” green crackers which are within permitted decibel limits and emission norms will be allowed. On 8th August 2018, the Court observed that a spike in PM 2.5 levels in the air is a severe problem as the particulate matter remains in people’s lungs, leading to serious health implications.
Ladisor chain-firecrackers, which are very noisy, are banned.
Timing restrictions on burning firecrackers have been imposed, allowing people to burn crackers only between 8pm and 10 pm on Diwali, while between 11:45 pm to 12:15 am on New Year and Christmas.
All states have been directed to explore feasibility of community cracker bursting during festivals.
SHO’s will be held liable if banned firecrackers are sold in their area.
The Indian Lawyer