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BREAKING : Supreme Court Upholds NGT Ban On Firecrackers In Delhi-NCR Regions With 'Poor' Air Quality

Radhika Roy
23 July 2021 7:17 AM GMT
BREAKING : Supreme Court Upholds NGT Ban On Firecrackers In Delhi-NCR Regions With Poor Air Quality
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"Do we need IIT to understand the impact of firecrackers on your lungs? This is common knowledge. We have come a long way from 2017 and we are in the middle of the pandemic now", the bench said.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed appeals challenging the National Green Tribunal's order which had imposed an complete ban on the sale and use of all firecrackers during the COVID-19 pandemic in NCR and other cities in India wherein the Air Quality Index (AQI) was poor. Stating that authorities may permit sale and use of firecrackers as per the category of AQI, a Bench of...

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed appeals challenging the National Green Tribunal's order which had imposed an complete ban on the sale and use of all firecrackers during the COVID-19 pandemic in NCR and other cities in India wherein the Air Quality Index (AQI) was poor.

Stating that authorities may permit sale and use of firecrackers as per the category of AQI, a Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna ordered that the same was addressed in the NGT's order and no further clarification or deliberation was required.

"Grievance was expressed that manufacturing activities will also be prohibited in the concerned area if the Air Quality falls. The impugned Order does not deal with that situation. If the situation is covered by general directions of the Supreme Court, it must be followed in letter and spirit. In other words, these appeals are devoid of merit and are dismissed", directed the Supreme Court.

COURTROOM EXCHANGE

In today's hearing, Senior Advocate PS Narasimha submitted before the Supreme Court that the NGT Order deviated from the judgement of the Top Court in Arjun Gopal v. Union of India which pertained to the indiscriminate usage of firecrackers and advocate for the use of green crackers.

The Bench, however, informed Narasimha that the Tribunal had analysed the same and had adopted a moderate approach.

"When they have said that it is green, what is wrong with that? This is restricted to COVID times. These are reasonable. They take care. It's not like a blanket ban has been impsed. Tribunal has said that when it is clear, there is no question. This is not a total ban. There is a misreading of the judgement. Please remove this notion from your head, production is on", said the Bench.

The Court stated that production was allowed, and those who wanted to use firecrackers could do so with permission.

Advocate J. Sai Deepak then made his submissions on behalf of an individual retailer.

"Despite the severe air quality, the Supreme Court took a categorical position in Arjun Gopal. The NGT Order is against this. The Order is at loggerheads with the SC Order. Even assuming that the particular order is not blanket in nature, this can be clarified by the Supreme Court because the Executive seems reluctant", argued Sai Deepak.

He further submitted that the NGT Order had rendered him without resources and lack of clarity was enabling him to lose his money.

The Bench, however, was not inclined to entertain this submission. They stated that the retailer could not claim unawareness and that a graded criterion had been laid down.

"The moment there is poor quality of air, all activities should stop", remarked the Bench.

Deepak then contended that firecrackers did not figure in the top 15 reasons for pollution, and if the main issue was  redressal of pollution, then all causal factors had to be considered such as stubble burning. He stated that the fireworks industry had received the short end of the stick.

To this, the Bench responded, "Do we need IIT to understand the impact of firecrackers on your lungs? This is common knowledge. We have come a long way from 2017 and we are in the middle of the pandemic now."

Taking into account that a clarification should be issued regarding usage of firecrackers in case of shift in air quality, the Court noted that the observation was an obvious import of the paragraph in the NGT Order and that sale of green crackers would be allowed in case of shift.

In light of the above, the Bench proceeded to dismiss the appeal.

In December 2020, a Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice AK Goel had directed for the prohibition in the use of firecrackers in areas wherein the AQI was poor in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It had further directed that only green crackers could be used during Christmas and New Year for a specified period of time.

District Magistrates had been directed to ensure that firecrackers which had been banned would not be sold, and were given the authority to recover compensation in cases of violations.


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