New Delhi: Delhiites can burst firecrackers purchased before the Supreme Court banned their sale on Monday, but there can be no sales in Delhi and the National Capital Region till October 31. Rejecting the traders’ plea to modify its order banning the sale of firecrackers, the 2-judge Bench lamented that a communal twist was being given to its order.
“The court has not stopped people from celebrating Diwali festival,” the Bench said, pointing out that the festival was celebrated not only by the Hindus but also by Jains and Sikhs. Asking the Delhi Police to implement the order strictly, the top court said: “We are not entering into any debate and none of the religious considerations have influenced our ban order.”
“We are pained to hear that some people are giving the order a communal colour. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very spiritual person in such matters,” said Justice Sikri, who along with two other judges authored the October 9 ban. A group of traders had moved the court seeking to modify the order with a prayer that otherwise their stocks worth crores of rupees will go waste; as it is, firecrackers do not have a long shelf life.
They had on Thursday mentioned the matter before the Apex Court for an urgent hearing, pointing out that they would not have stocked firecrackers for sale but for the court’s September 12 order that revived their licences. Some environmentalists say the court order is too narrowly defined to be effective because it bans just the sale of fireworks, which can still be purchased in neighboring states. Others say upending the tradition of using fireworks to celebrate religious festivals and other important occasions, despite the health risks, poses a challenge.
According to the New York Times, ban on fireworks has been considered in other large Asian cities. In China’s notoriously polluted capital, Beijing, lawmakers rescinded a prohibition on fireworks in 2006 before the Lunar New Year in response to protests. Deaths and injuries from fireworks in China draw attention to the issue every year. But efforts to curtail their use in India are a relatively new phenomenon, and some people have framed the issue as an attack on Hinduism, annoying the judges.