Comply with order banning crackers: Supreme Court tells states, UTs
The Supreme Court on Friday told states and Union territories to strictly comply with its order prohibiting the sale, manufacture or use of banned firecrackers ahead of Diwali and warned that the chief secretaries, police commissioners, police district superintendents and station house officers will be personally liable in the event of violations.
“No authority can permit the violation of the directions issued by this Court and permit banned firecrackers under the guise of celebration,” said a bench of justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna. The Court clarified, however, that there is no blanket firecracker ban, because green crackers can be used during the festival.
To be sure, despite this order, the use of firecrackers of all types (including the ‘green’ ones) will remain banned in Delhi and Odisha, where there is a total ban on the sale, storage or use of any kind of crackers.
In Delhi, the ban is effective till January 1 next year in view of the worsening air pollution, and Odisha has imposed the ban in the interest of protecting general public health.
Uttar Pradesh on Friday said it will permit the use of green crackers during Diwali for two hours, in areas where air pollution levels are ‘moderate’ or better.
The Court’s order came on an application moved by a minor, Arjun Gopal, and two others. The case was argued by the minor’s father, senior advocate Gopal Shankarnaraynan.
The application cited a report by NGO Awaz Foundation, which tested “green crackers” and found them to contain the chemicals banned by the Court orders of September 2017 and October 2018. The report also found “fake QR codes” printed on the boxes of these crackers.
The Court earlier prohibited the use of barium, lithium, arsenic, antimony, lead, mercury in firecrackers owing to its adverse impact on human lungs and eyes. It had also banned the use of joined firecrackers (laaris) owing to the huge noise, air and solid waste problem.
The bench termed the violation of its directions as “unfortunate”.
“It prima facie appears that the implementing agencies of the concerned states either lack the desire to implement the directions issued by this Court or they close their eyes for whatever reasons.”
On October 23, 2018, the Court prohibited barium salts in manufacture of firecrackers but the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which undertook an investigation against fireworks manufacturers, recently submitted a report to the Court finding barium and other banned chemicals in firecrackers put on sale.
“Celebration cannot be at the cost of the other’s health. Under the guise of celebration, nobody can be permitted to infringe the right to health of the others, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and nobody can be permitted to play with the life of the others, more particularly the senior citizens and the children,” the bench said,
To ensure strict compliance, the bench said, “Any lapse on the part of the state governments/state agencies and Union territories shall be viewed very seriously and if it is found that any banned firecrackers are manufactured, sold and used in any particular area, the chief secretary of the concerned state(s), the secretary (home) of the concerned state(s) and the commissioner of police of the concerned area, district superintendent of police of the concerned area and the SHO/police officer in-charge of the concerned police station shall be held personally liable.”
In its October 2018 order, the top court fixed the responsibility on district magistrates and police SHOs to ensure compliance of its order.