Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 2- Judge Bench comprising of A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ., gave directions to be followed for burning of crackers while refusing the complete ban on the sale of firecrackers as it may lead to “extreme economic hardships” (observing without conclusively holding) and further stating that there have been lots of efforts for production of firecrackers which do not contain harmful chemicals and thereby not causing air pollution, which are even termed as Green Crackers’.

The present petition was filed by next friends of three infants concerning the health of the children as due to the alarming degradation of the air quality, leading to severe air pollution in the city of Delhi, the petitioners may encounter various health hazards. Children are much more vulnerable to air pollutants as exposure thereto may affect them in various ways. Further, they have submitted that air pollution hits its nadir during Diwali time because of indiscriminate use of firecrackers.

In light of the above submissions, the petitioners have prayed for directions to the official respondents to take possible measures for checking the pollution by sticking at the causes of the pollution.

The Supreme Court on duly considering the submissions of the parties and taking note of the reports based on earlier orders of the Supreme Court concerning the same issue, stated that bursting of firecrackers during Diwali is not the only reason for deterioration of air quality, the other reasons which contribute to the issue are unregulated construction activity and crop burning. Further, the Court stated that “our endeavor is to strive at balancing of two rights, namely, right of the petitioners under Article 21 and right of the manufacturers and traders under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

Respondent 1, on the direction of Apex Court’s earlier order, filed an affidavit in consultation with various ministries to deal with the problems and issues as stated above, which have been accepted by the Supreme Court and further direction has been given for the implementation of the same. The directions given by the Court have been stated below in a succinct manner:

  • Complete ban on manufacture and sale of all fireworks which are high emission. Therefore all existing fireworks like sparklers, flower pots, chakras, rockets and crackers stand banned.
  • Only “green” and low emission fireworks which will have to be made in future are permitted, once cleared by PESO.
  • Any of those fireworks which are green or low emission when invented will be permitted to be used only in community areas as demarcated and not in front of everybody’s houses.
  • Any violation of the sale of prohibited fireworks or their use or the bursting of permitted fireworks in non designated areas will be the responsibility of the respective SHO who can be hauled up for contempt of the Supreme Court.
  • No E-Commerce site can sell any of the traditional Fireworks and if they do so they will be guilty of contempt of Supreme Court as well.
  • It will be the responsibility of PESO to ensure that all existing fireworks are disposed of and not permitted to be sold.
  • On Diwali days or on any other festivals like Gurupurab, when fireworks generally take place, it would strictly be from 8:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m. only. On Christmas and New Year eve, when such fireworks start around midnight, i.e. 12:00 a.m., it would be from 11:55 p.m. till 12:30 a.m. only.
  • Union of India, Government of NCT of Delhi and the State Governments of the NCR would permit community fire cracking only (for Diwali and other festivals etc.)

Therefore, the Court having regard to the overall circumstances, decided to have a balanced approach to tackle the stated issue which may take care of the concerns of both the parties and provide a reasonable and adequate solution. [Arjun Gopal v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2118, decided on 23-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Considering the necessity to give precedence to the health of the people in Delhi and in the NCR over any commercial or other interest, the bench of Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ issued elaborate directions and  said that keeping in mind the adverse effects of air pollution, the human right to breathe clean air and the human right to health, the Central  Government and other authorities should consider encouraging display fireworks through community participation rather than individual bursting of fireworks.

The directions issued by the Court are as follows:

  • The concerned police authorities and the District Magistrates will ensure that fireworks are not burst in silence zones that is, an area at least 100 meters away from hospitals, nursing homes, primary and district health-care centres, educational institutions, courts, religious places or any other area that may be declared as a silence zone by the concerned authorities.
  • The Delhi Police is directed to reduce the grant of temporary licences by about 50% of the number of licences granted in 2016. The number of temporary licences should be capped at 500.
  • The Union of India will update and revise and ensure strict compliance with the Notification dated 27th January, 1992 regarding the ban on import of fireworks.
  • The Department of Education of the Government of NCT of Delhi and the corresponding Department in other States in the NCR shall immediately formulate a plan of action, in not more than 15 days, to reach out to children in all the schools through the school staff, volunteers and NGOs to sensitize and educate school children on the health hazards and ill-effects of breathing polluted air, including air that is polluted due to fireworks. School children should be encouraged to reduce, if not eliminate, the bursting of fireworks as a part of any festivities.
  • Fireworks containing aluminium, sulphur, potassium and barium may be sold in Delhi and in the NCR, provided the composition already approved by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) is maintained. However, the use of compounds of antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in the manufacture of fireworks as well as the use of strontium chromate in the manufacture of fireworks is prohibited.
  • 50,00,000 kg of fireworks is far more than enough for Dussehra and Diwali in 2017, hence, transport of fireworks into Delhi and the NCR from outside the region is prohibited and the concerned law enforcement authorities will ensure that there is no further entry of fireworks into Delhi and the NCR till further orders. The permanent licensees are at liberty to take measures to transport the stocks outside Delhi and the NCR.
  • The suspension of permanent licences as directed by the order dated 11th November, 2016 is lifted for the time being. However, the suspension might be reviewed after Diwali depending on the ambient air quality post Diwali.
  • Research study must be jointly carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Fireworks Development Research Centre (FDRC) laying down appropriate standards for ambient air quality in relation to the bursting of fireworks and the release of their constituents in the air. Also, a research study needs to be conducted on the impact of bursting fireworks during Dussehra and Diwali on the health of the people.

The Court appointed a Committee to be chaired by the Chairperson of the CPCB and consisting of officers at the appropriate level from the National Physical Laboratory, Delhi, the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, Timarpur, Delhi, the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, scientists from the State Pollution Control Boards, the Fire Development and Research Centre, Sivakasi and Nagpur and the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) nominated by the Chairperson of the CPCB to submit a report in this regard preferably on or before 31st December, 2017. [Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1071, decided on 12.09.2017]