The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck a balance between the interests of the firecracker industry and the right to public health, allowing the manufacture and sale of only “green” and reduced-emission or “improved” crackers, while banning those that are loud and toxic to man, animal and the environment.
A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan held that only green or improved crackers would be used during religious festivals and other occasions, including weddings.
The judgment reduced the time for bursting crackers during Deepavali and other festivals to two hours: between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. For Christmas and New Year, the time slot allowed is just half-an-hour, between 11.55 p.m. and half-past midnight. The reduced time window is applicable across the country.
The ban came on the basis of a petition filed by two infants — a six-month-old and 14-month-old — through their fathers in 2015. They said the air pollution caused by various factors, especially firecrackers, made Delhi a gas chamber. They pleaded for their right to life.
The court banned the manufacture, sale and use of joined firecrackers (series crackers or ‘laris’), holding that they caused “huge air, noise and solid waste problems.” The sale of green and improved crackers would be only through licensed traders. It banned online sale through e-commerce websites, including Flipkart and Amazon. “Any such e-commerce company found selling crackers online will be hauled up for contempt of court, and the court may also pass, in that eventuality, orders of monetary penalties,” it warned.
The court said the “balanced approach” taken now was only a preliminary step.