20 April 2022 2:25 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to list the petitions filed seeking a ban on the sale, purchase and use of firecrackers in India on 26th April 2020 for final disposalA bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice Bopanna was considering the writ petition filed in 2015 by Arjun Gopal, Aarav Bhandari and Zoya Rao Bhasin, who were then aged between 6 months and 14 months, through their...
The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to list the petitions filed seeking a ban on the sale, purchase and use of firecrackers in India on 26th April 2020 for final disposal
A bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice Bopanna was considering the writ petition 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 through Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Advocate Pooja Dhar, among other things, sought a complete ban on use of firecrackers, sparklers and explosives during festivals.
During the hearing, the Bench at the outset opined that the matter should be listed for final disposal before the next Diwali.
Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing for the petitioner and Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for firecracker manufacturers submitted that they were ready to argue the case. However the Bench observed that the case was listed only to fix a date for the hearing
The Senior Counsels also submitted that bench should focus on the main issue regarding the firecrackers first.
"In fact, illegal manufacturing is going on on a large scale. Authorities must ensure illegal manufacturing must stop. Please list in July" Mr Dave said
" The petitioner has already succeeded. I don't know why they are pushing it beyond the scope. Your lordships have achieved a lot. Its on a narrow compass now." Mr Dave submitted
" Everyone should spend their holidays in Delhi if they think we have achieved a lot" Mr Sankaranarayanan responded
The Apex Court has since 2015 passed the following important orders while considering the present petition:
In November 2016, the Supreme Court had asked the Central Pollution Control Board to study the harmful effects of substances used in the manufacture of crackers, and submit its report within three months. The bench headed by the then Chief Justice, T.S. Thakur, was concerned whether the substances used could lead to cancerous diseases.
On February 10 2017, the bench of Justices Lokur and Prafulla C Pant had read CPCB's report and observed that some of the chemicals used in the manufacture of fire-crackers are dangerous and beyond the safety limit.
In July 2017, the Court had set certain standards for firecrackers and had directed that no fire-crackers shall contain polluting substances such as, antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in any form whatsoever. The court had made it clear that it was the responsibility of the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) to ensure compliance, particularly in Sivakasi, the hub of fire-crackers manufacturers, many of whom were arraigned as respondents in the present case.
The SC had on October 9 2017 just before Diwali suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR in a bid to test whether the festival without firecrackers will have a "positive effect" on the health of citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality. It was to test itself to find out whether there would be a positive effect of the ban on the air quality.
In October 2018, Supreme Court had ruled against imposing complete ban on firecrackers but has 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 issued earlier and today 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
Details of the petition:
The petition sought that the temporary fireworks/ fireworks licenses granted by the licensing unit of the Delhi Police be stayed.
The Petition reasons that fireworks generate a variety of air pollutants, like carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, in addition to aerosols or particulate matter that worsens lung conditions like asthma.
"The quality of air in major cities in India is degrading by the day due to heavy traffic and industrialization, but this needless new gimmick in the name of celebration is posing a risk not only to us but our children and generations of Indians yet to be born. The amount of toxins and particulates released by fireworks are well documented by various research studies and scholarly papers. Apart from air pollution, the harmful effects through noise pollution due to fireworks is also well documented and particularly in the development of the children of our country," it submits.
The plea states that while considerable debate and long-term measures are being discussed by "slow moving state machinery for implementation of measures to control pollution levels in Delhi", the highest court of the land was "duty bound" to take interim steps in effectuating the people's right to clean, healthy and breathable air under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
In order to substantiate its stand, the petition relies on several research reports on ambient air and noise quality in India during Diwali as well as news reports that have catalogued level of pollution in Delhi. These reports show that the air quality drops significantly during Diwali and exposes humans to a greater risk of pollution related diseases. These studies also confirm that the effects of fireworks activity in degrading the air quality continue to linger for several days after Diwali day.
It cites a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005 on the ill effects caused by air pollution in children. This report states that there is a causal relationship between air pollution and health effects in children as also between air pollution and low birth weight, premature births and intrauterine growth retardation. As per the report, there is also considerable evidence of a causal link between ambient air pollutants and childhood morbidity and mortality.
The Petition negates any defence based on Article 25 of the Constitution by stating that there is nothing in the religious texts of any major religion practiced in India that advocates or calls for the use of firecrackers in celebrating festivals.
Besides blaming firecrackers in the months of October and November due to Dussehra and Diwali, the petitioners submit that a majority of the pollution in Delhi is caused by over 500 million tons of crop residue burning that happens in the States around the capital, by polluting trucks that pass through the city at night and road dust and industry.
Therefore, the PIL also seeks a ban on burning of seasonal crops, strict action against those who dump dust, malba and other pollutants without following rules and immediate introduction of Bharat-V or better emission norms into operation uniformly across country.