Cannot impose blanket ban on crackers, says Supreme Court

Court reiterates curbs on use of toxic chemicals

Updated - November 02, 2021 06:36 am IST

Published - November 01, 2021 04:31 pm IST - New Delhi

Firecrackers on display ahead of Deepavali. File

Firecrackers on display ahead of Deepavali. File

The Supreme Court on Monday said a blanket ban on firecrackers may not be possible, but measures ought to be in place to prevent the use of toxic chemicals in firecrackers.

This is the second time in the past few days that the court had accepted the improbability of imposing a total ban on firecrackers. On October 29, the apex court had made it clear that there was no total ban on use of firecrackers.

“Only those firecrackers are banned which are found to be injurious to health and affecting the health of citizens,” the court had noted in an order.

On Monday, a Special Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi orally said there cannot be a complete ban of firecrackers.

Also read: Supreme Court to hear plea against ban on firecrackers in West Bengal during Diwali, other festivals

 

The firecracker industry had moved the apex court after the Calcutta HC “prohibited the sale, purchase, use, display or bursting of firecrackers of any type at all during the upcoming Kali Puja, Diwali celebration as well as the following Chatt Puja, Jagadhatri Puja, Guru Nanak’s Birthday and/or Christmas/New Year’s Eve this year in the State of West Bengal”.

“Strengthen the mechanism to stop misuse,” the apex court reiterated its advice, with a reference to its October 29 order.

The Special Bench was setting aside a Calcutta High Court order which had ordered a complete ban on the use of firecrackers on October 29, coincidentally the very same day on which the top court had said such a measure was not advisable.

The Bench said the High Court order was “extreme”. The HC should have heard the industry, which employs thousands of workers, before passing any such order.

The apex court asked whether the HC had made any effort to verify if any alternative mechanism was in place to make green crackers available in the market.

On October 29, in a different case, a Supreme Court Bench led by Justice M.R. Shah had declared that Chief Secretaries, top administrative and police officials would be held personally liable if banned varieties of firecrackers were found to be used in any of the States.

“Celebration cannot be at the cost of others’ health… Nobody can be permitted to play with the life of others, more particularly that of senior citizens and children,” a Bench of Justices M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna had underscored.

“Any lapse on the part of the State Governments/State Agencies and Union Territories shall be viewed very seriously. If it is found that any banned firecrackers are manufactured, sold and used in any particular area, the Chief Secretary of the State(s), the Secretary (Home) of the State(s) and the Commissioner of Police of the area, District Superintendent of Police of the area and the SHO/Police Officer in-charge of the police station shall be held personally liable,” the apex court had ordered on October 29.

The court had said nobody, however high, should be permitted to flout the directions of the Supreme Court.

“Any wilful and deliberate disobedience shall have to be viewed very seriously,” the Supreme Court had emphasised in the 19-page order.

The October 29 order had come in a plea, represented by senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, that manufacturers were blatantly flouting the court’s ban on using toxic chemicals like Barium salts in firecrackers. The court had allowed the use of ‘green’ or environment-friendly crackers made without toxic ingredients.

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