SC Permits Use of ‘Safe’ Firecrackers, Lifts Blanket Ban
The court’s verdict is on a plea seeking the complete ban on firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 23 October, permitted the sale and manufacture of low emission “safe and green” firecrackers countrywide and fixed a two-hour time period from 8 pm to 10 pm for bursting them on Diwali.
On Christmas and New Year, the use of firecrackers will be allowed only between 11:55 pm to 12:30 am.
A bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan also restrained e-commerce websites from selling firecrackers which were beyond the permissible limit.
The apex court's order came on a plea seeking a ban on manufacture and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.
Here are certain conditions imposed by the Supreme Court:
- SC permitted sale and manufacture of "green" crackers which have low emission across the country.
- SC fixed 8 pm to 10 pm time period for bursting of firecrackers on Diwali and other festivals.
- E-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon are restrained from selling firecrackers which are beyond the permissible limit.
- E-commerce websites will be hauled up for contempt of court if they don't adhere to court's direction.
- Firecrackers with permissible decibel sound limits will only be allowed to be sold in the market.
- The court asked the Centre to encourage community cracker bursting during Diwali and other festivals in Delhi-NCR.
- It also directed all states to explore feasibility of community cracker bursting during festivals.
- The Station House Officers (SHO) of the police station concerned will be held liable if banned firecrackers are sold in their area.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the verdict, Vijay Panjwani, Advocate of Central Pollution Control Board, told ANI the order isn’t strict enough.
“Supreme Court’s orders are not very strict. We were expecting complete ban but that has not happened. Crackers will be allowed but there is time restriction as it will be allowed between 8 pm to 10 pm,” he said.
A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, which had reserved its verdict on 28 August, pronounced the judgment on Tuesday.
The apex court had earlier said there is a need to take into account all aspects, including the fundamental rights of livelihood of firecracker manufacturers and the right to health of over 1.3 billion people in the country, while considering a plea for the ban.
The top court had said the Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution applies to both segments of people and it needs to maintain a balance, while considering a countrywide ban on firecrackers.
It had asked the Centre to suggest measures to be taken for curbing the pollution and to gauge the effect of firecrackers on the public at large.
The apex court had on 8 August, said 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.
Firecracker manufacturers earlier told the court that the use of firecrackers should not be completely banned and it should instead be strictly regulated.
They have contended that the crackers are not the reason for increase in air pollution and there are other factors, like wind and temperature, which contribute to it. They also said the firecracker manufacturers cannot be deprived of their right to do business, based on statements which were not supported by facts.
On 9 October last year, the top court temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali.
Later, the court refused to relax its order while dismissing a plea by traders who had sought permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali on 19 October, 2017.
The apex court said its ban order during Diwali that year was an experiment to examine its effect on the pollution levels in the region.
(With inputs from PTI and CNN-News18)
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