Calcutta High Court | While deciding a matter related to sale of green firecrackers in West Bengal, the Division bench comprising of Apurba Sinha Ray and Joymalya Bagchi, JJ., directed the Pollution Control Board as well as the police authorities to ensure that there is no importation, sale or bursting of crackers other than the green crackers bearing QR Code in the State of West Bengal.
In the instant matter, a Public Interest Litigation was filled allegation the violation of Supreme Court’s green cracker norms provides in Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, (2019) 13 SCC 523, in the State of West Bengal. The petitioner contended that neither the State of West Bengal nor the State Pollution Control Board has formulated a mechanism to ensure sale and bursting of green crackers only, thus, resulting in severe noise and air pollution in the State in previous years. The petitioner prayed for a total ban on the sale of firecrackers in the State.
Opposing the total ban of firecrackers, the respondents contended that a similar issue was taken by the Supreme Court (Civil Appeal No. 6561 of 2021) and had set aside the order of total ban on firecrackers issued by the Calcutta High Court (WPA No. 282 of 2021). The respondents contended that the Supreme Court “remanded the matter for consideration of issuance of appropriate directions upon the state of West Bengal to ensure importation, sale and bursting of green crackers only in the State”.
The respondents also contended that a Division Bench of this Court had directed the Commissioners and the Superintendent of Police of the concerned districts in the State and the Home Secretary to regulate import, sale and bursting of crackers and appropriate steps had been taken for implementation of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in Goutam Roy v. State of W.B., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 3238, and by this Court in its order dated 03.11.2022.
The Court observed that there is no dispute regarding the parameters regarding sale and bursting of crackers in the State but with the mechanism for implementation.
The Court observed that it is the duty of the Pollution Control Board as well as the police authorities to ensure that there is no importation, sale or bursting of crackers other than the green crackers bearing QR Code in the State of West Bengal.
The Court directed the Pollution Control Board and the State of West Bengal to take appropriate measures including the following
- No firecrackers other than green crackers bearing QR Code would be sold in the Bazi-Bazar which is proposed to be held in Kolkata on and from 18.10.2022.
- State Pollution Control Board as well as the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata shall deploy appropriate number of personnel in the Bazi Bazar to ensure implementation of the aforesaid direction.
- The representatives of the State Pollution Control Board and the police personnel shall be at liberty to inspect the firecrackers which are sold at Bazi Bazar and the police personnel shall seize any banned firecrackers which are offered for sale in the bazar.
- Representatives of PESO/NEERI shall also be present at the Bazi Bazar and assist the Pollution Control Board/ police personnel to determine whether the firecrackers which are offered for sale bearing the requisite QR Code;
- Similar exercise shall be undertaken by Pollution Control Board and police authorities to prevent importation and sale of firecrackers other than green firecrackers bearing QR Code in any place in the State of West Bengal;
- All necessary steps shall be taken by the police authorities/PCB Officials to ensure only green crackers are burst during the festive season strictly in compliance with the directions of the Pollution Control Board vide Memo No. 321-3L/WPBE(VI)/2020 dated 26.10.2021.
State Pollution Control Board and the State of West Bengal shall undertake public awareness measures including issuance of advertisements in newspapers, announcements on radio/ television/social media platforms etc. to spread awareness with regard to restrictions on sale and bursting of crackers during festive season and its beneficial impact on pollution and environment. It shall also make members of the public aware of the penal consequences arising from sale and bursting of banned crackers.
[Sabuj Mancha v. State of W.B., 2022 SCC OnLine Cal 3144, decided on 11.10.2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
Mr. R.N. Chakraborty and Mr. A. De, Counsel for the Petitioner;
Mr. Tapan Kumar Mukherjee and Ms. Saheli Mukherjee, Counsel for the State;
Mr. N.C. Bihani, Mrs. P.B. Bihani and Ms. K. Singh, Counsel for the WBPCB;
Mr. Biswaroop Bhattacharyya, Ms. Mayuri Ghosh, Ms. Madhushri Dutta, Ms. Easha Manchanda, Mr. Arnab Sengupta and Mr. Debarshi Dhar, Counsel for the Other Respondent.
*Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.