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]