14 Sep 2023 12:42 PM GMT
The Supreme Court Thursday told the Delhi Police that the issues relating to violation of the firecracker ban imposed in Delhi NCR must be nipped in the bud. The Court orally remarked that there was no point in taking action after violations have taken place.A bench of Justice A S Bopanna and Justice M M Sundresh was hearing a batch of petitions filed seeking a ban on the sale, purchase and...
The Supreme Court Thursday told the Delhi Police that the issues relating to violation of the firecracker ban imposed in Delhi NCR must be nipped in the bud. The Court orally remarked that there was no point in taking action after violations have taken place.
A bench of Justice A S Bopanna and Justice M M Sundresh was hearing a batch of petitions filed seeking a ban on the sale, purchase and use of firecrackers in India.
On Monday, 11th September, the Delhi Government had announced its decision to ban the manufacturing, sale, storage and use of firecrackers as part of action plan to curb pollution in winters. On 13th September while hearing the plea on ban of firecrackers, the Court had asked the Delhi Police how it plans to implement the recent ban.
Today, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati who appeared on behalf of the Delhi Police presented the action plan on enforcement of the ban.
“Cases against persons bursting may not be the solution. You will have to find the source and take action.” Justice Bopanna said.
“You need to nip it in the bud, no point in taking action after it has happened.” Justice Sundresh added.
Sr. Adv. Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing for the Petitioners(who seek to ban the use of firecrackers) submitted in court that it is not the persons who burst expensive crackers in the capital who actually suffer, but the persons on the street. “It is those persons on the streets, who live in small shanties with no windows, persons who sweep the streets, who are suffering. Persons with Mercedes, can come and burst crackers worth lakhs and then go back to their air conditioned homes with PM 2.5 purifiers.” he said.
Sankaranarayanan pointed out that despite the ban and the orders of the Court, manufacturing and transportation of crackers is still taking place. He added that barium, despite being banned is also being used in crackers, without being labelled in the product.
ASG Bhati said that crackers were not the only contributing factor to the menace of air pollution. “The union and its instrumentalities are dealing with air pollution. Air pollution is a problem for us as a developing nation, everyone agrees. Despite the ban, if the pollution is still high, is it just the crackers that are contributing to it?” she said.
The ASG also submitted that the Delhi Police licensing unit had not issued any licenses to manufacturers since 2016. At which point Sankaranarayanan interjected and said that the ASG was only referring to permanent licences. He informed the Court that temporary licences were still being issued.
“Please tell them not to issue temporary licenses, any license of any form. You are violating the order. There is a ban as of now. Can't say anything beyond this.” Justice Sundresh told the ASG.
In 2021, the Apex Court had issued a series of directions including banning the use of barium-based chemicals in fire crackers and allowing only the use of "green crackers".
Sr. Adv. Shyam Divan, appearing for one of the respondents, submitted in court today that formulations with reduced quantities of barium have been developed by CSIR NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute), which is a huge development.
In this context, Justice Sundresh remarked that barium as was used earlier could not be used, but the question for consideration would be if it can be allowed with the new formulations. “Earlier orders were passed in a different context, where substantial research had not been done. Now research institutes have come up with new formulations.” he said.
Sankaranarayanan told the Court that the research institutes have come up with new formulations for crackers with and without barium.
Sankaranarayanan argued that no health body had informed the Court that barium is okay. “Let the respondents show the health impact of barium”, he said.
“I remember Justice Sundresh had said previously, don't ask for a ban, that it is too extreme. I am still not asking for that. Please just abide by your lordships' directions based on the health impacts of barium.” he said.
Sankaranarayanan also submitted that the health impact was to be looked into by CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) and not by NEERI.
“NEERI as we understand is expected to go into all this.” Justice Sundresh responded.
Sankaranarayanan stated that NEERI has entered into MoUs with manufacturers, indicating its vested interest.
“You have to trust our primary institutions and the third institution is going to look into it.” Justice Sundresh remarked, before the Bench concluded the hearing.
The writ petition was filed in 2015 by Arjun Gopal, Aarav Bhandari and Zoya Rao Bhasin, who were then aged between 6 months and 14 months, through their legal guardians, praying for urgent measures to bring down the fatal pollution level in the national capital, Delhi.
The petitioners had sought for a complete ban on use of firecrackers, sparklers and explosives during festivals.
The Apex Court has since 2015 passed several orders while considering the petition:
In October 2018, Supreme Court had ruled against imposing complete ban on firecrackers but said that only less polluting green crackers can be sold, that too only through licensed traders. The Court had banned online sale of firecrackers, restraining e-commerce websites from carrying out its sale. The Court had also fixed duration for bursting of crackers and ordered that crackers can be burst only in designated areas.
On 29th October 2021, a bench comprising Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna had issued a series of directions to ensure the strict implementation of its earlier orders banning the use of barium-based chemicals in fire crackers and allowing only the use of "green crackers". The bench had also directed the States/Union Territories to see that its directions are strictly complied with in its true spirit and in toto. It also said that any lapse on part of State Governments/State Agencies and Union Territories shall be viewed seriously.
Case Title: Arjun Gopal Vs. Union Of India, W.P.(C) No. 728/2015 and connected matters