13 Sep 2023 12:33 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the Delhi Police on how they were going to implement the firecracker ban imposed in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. 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. Sr. Adv. Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing for the...
The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the Delhi Police on how they were going to implement the firecracker ban imposed in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
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.
Sr. Adv. Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing for the petitioner submitted that despite the directions of the Court, there have been blatant violations in Delhi NCR. "I have filed media reports of firecrackers being burst in Delhi. Magically they have been transported into Delhi despite the ban. Many of them contain barium too."
"Let the Delhi Police and other agencies in NCR be held accountable, let them have a plan in place." Sankaranarayanan said in this regard.
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.
"So far as Delhi is concerned, there have been earlier orders not to allow.. This year in any case, the ban is there. But the concern is even if there is a ban how does this happen? There has to be answer to this" Justice Bopanna said during the hearing today.
The Delhi Police has been instructed to apprise the Court in this regard, tomorrow at 3 PM.
Also Read - 'Won't Interfere With Firecracker Ban In Delhi, Find Other Ways To Celebrate': Supreme Court To Manoj Tiwari MP
In 2021, the Supreme Court had passed a slew of directions to ensure that banned chemicals are not used in crackers ahead of Diwali 2021. The bench had also clarified that there is no total ban on firecrackers and that only those firecrackers were banned that contained barium salts. Green crackers are permissible following the directions issued by the Supreme Court in 2018.
"It is not that these fireworks have any public interest. There are no positive elements unlike construction work for development or diesel which is necessary for delivery of essential services." Sankaranarayanan submitted in Court today. "Every year they [manufacturers] come and say we are out of work, while they're actually continuing with the sale.. They keep violating directions again and again, and then come to the court asking why don't you relax this?" he said.
Sankaranarayanan read out reports on Delhi's alarming air pollution levels and also referred to a report by a medical expert formerly with AIMS and Gangaram hospital which categorically stated that the cases of lung cancer in Delhi has been going up. When this particulate matters enters the body, they remain there, it is virtually irreversible, he explained. Sankaranarayanan pointed out that the doctor has said that when he operates the lungs of children from the NCR region, it is grey, when it is supposed to be bright pink.
The Court in its previous order had directed the Centre to submit a protocol on how to implement the restrictions/ regulations with regard to the sale of green crackers.
In today's hearing, Additional Solicitor General, Aishwarya Bhati informed the Court that the protocol had been brought on record. The protocol includes online registration of manufacturers with CSIR National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), QR coding of products by authorised agencies, random testing etc, she explained. She also said that the penalty for non compliance would include cancellation of license. She told the Court that quality control and checks would be put in place right at the beginning of manufacturing
"We are conducting training and skill development programs. Over 1000 manufacturers have been trained so far." the ASG said. "Our vision is not to end at this. There will be a periodic review of emission standards by a technical committee every three years." the ASG added.
"Your Lordships will see how much work has gone into this after the Court's orders. Before this court was dealing with this matter, it was an unregulated industry. But with this Court's hand holding, progress has been made." the ASG said.
The ASG also specifically highlighted the contribution of NEERI in the research and testing of green crackers.
However, Sr. Adv. Gopal during his submissions said that NEERI has entered in MoUs with over 200 manufactures which is indicative of a monetary element in its approach.
"If your lordships are satisified with the mechanism, the Court may accept it and we can reach a finality on this matter. (In lighter vein) Or we can go on for another 10 years, with a hearing right before Diwali every year." ASG Bhati said at the end of her submissions.
Rebutting the ASG's statement. Sr. Adv. Gopal said, "Miss Bhati wants closure, but her clients are silent on what it has done so far. As far as Delhi NCR is concerned, what have they done in the last 8 years?"
"The Centre is now supporting the manufacturers, there may be some reason for it , I don't know.." he added.
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