The Supreme Court on Friday refused to modify its October 9 order suspending the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR till November 1.
The court said it knew that "some people are trying to give a communal tinge to our order... but we will consider that as people expressing their anguish at our order".
The court said that its concern primarily was the health of the masses.
"If someone knows me, I am myself spiritual in these matter. But this is a legal issue," Justice A.K. Sikri, who leads the Bench, said.
The Bench, also comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, was hearing a plea of firecracker manufacturers and traders hit by the October 9 ban.
"Diwali has been celebrated for hundreds of years. Delhi is no exception to the rest of India. There are children who wait for Diwali celebrations," senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the traders, submitted.
'No ban on bursting of crackers'
Interestingly, the October 9 order only suspended sale and did not impose any restriction on bursting of crackers.
"Who said we have banned the bursting of crackers. The existing stockpile of crackers is enough," Justice Sikri said.
Mr. Rohatgi even suggested to the court to designate the time and days for bursting crackers.
To this, the Bench said "very frankly" it doubted whether the suspension of sales has dampened Diwali celebrations.
"The sales are already taking place. Crackers are already being burst. It is not anyway going to be a cracker-free Diwali," Justice Sikri remarked.
The court said it would anyway monitor the post-Diwali situation after November 1.
The suspension was ordered in a bid to test whether a Diwali without firecrackers this year will have a “positive effect” on the health of citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality.
The court reverted to its November 2016 decision to suspend the sale of firecrackers “to test itself in order to find out whether there would be positive effect of this suspension, particularly during Diwali period”.
“There is virtually a consensus in society that crackers should not be burnt during Diwali, which can be celebrated with equal fervour by various other means as well... We have the direct evidence of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels, which happens every year. As already pointed out above, burning of these firecrackers during Diwali in 2016 had shot up pm levels by three times, making Delhi the worst city in the world, insofar as air pollution is concerned. Direct and immediate cause thereof was burning of crackers during Diwali,” the court reasoned in its 20-page judgment.