New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday permitted the sale and manufacture of low emission “green” firecrackers countrywide and fixed a two-hour time period from 8 pm to 10 pm for bursting them on Diwali and other festivals.
A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan also restrained e-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon 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. The bench also said that e-commerce websites will be hauled up for contempt of court if they don’t adhere to the court’s direction.
“Firecrackers with permissible decibel sound limits will only be allowed to be sold in the market,” the bench said. It also asked the Centre to encourage community cracker bursting during Diwali and other festivals in Delhi-NCR and directed all states to explore feasibility of community cracker bursting during festivals. It also said that Station House Officers of police stations concerned will be held liable if banned firecrackers are sold in their area.
The top court had earlier said there is a need 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 in the country, while considering a plea for the ban. The apex court had said the Article 21 (right to life) of 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 for curbing pollution and the effect of firecrackers on the public at large. Firecracker manufacturers earlier told the court that use of crackers should not be completely banned and it should instead be strictly regulated. They had contended that crackers are not the reason for increase in air pollution and there are other factors, like wind and temperature, which contribute to it. They had said firecracker manufacturers can be deprived of their right to do business based on statements which were not supported by facts.
On October 9 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 October 19, 2017. The apex court said its ban order during Diwali that year was an experiment to examine its effect on pollution levels in the region.