SC on firecrackers ban: Prime focus is right to life of citizens
Batting for the implementation of rules for green crackers, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it cannot infringe the right to life of other citizens “under the guise of employment of few” while considering a ban on firecrackers. The apex court also added that its prime focus is the right to life of innocent citizens. “We have to strike the balance between employment, unemployment, and the right to life of the citizens. Under the guise of employment of few, we cannot permit others to infringe the right to life of other citizens.
“Our prime focus is the right to life of innocent citizens. If we find green crackers are there and accepted by the committee of experts we will pass suitable orders,” the bench said, adding that in our country, the main difficulty is implementation. “Laws are there but ultimately implementation has to be there. Our order should be implemented in the true spirit,” the bench of Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna.
“Firecrackers are not narcotics that someone will smoke in the bathroom. This is going on with impunity and the executive has failed to implement orders of this court,” he submitted.
Senior advocate Atmaram Nadkarni, appearing for manufacturers’ association of firecrackers, said that Diwali is approaching on November 4 and they want Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) to take a decision on the issue of firecrackers. He said the Government should decide the matter as lakhs of people are unemployed in the industry. The senior advocate said contempt must be heard and taken to a logical end but the plight of lakhs of people who are working in the industry should also be looked into.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing for the petitioner Arjun Gopal said series of orders have been passed by the top court and directions have been given that PESO will give final clearance to firecrackers that are safe. When Nadkarni interrupted Sankaranarayanan, the bench in a lighter vein said, “We don’t want any bursting of crackers in the courtroom. Everybody will get a chance. Also, I’m afraid of firecrackers.”
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Ministry of Environment and Forests, said an affidavit was filed by the ministry in October 2020 and if the top court takes note of it all the interim applications will be covered in that. All the experts have come together and suggested formulations on the issue of green crackers.
Sankaranarayanan submitted that the petition was filed in 2015 dealing with multiple issues of air pollution and a series of orders were passed in subsequent years. He contended that despite several orders, the executive is not taking appropriate action to ban harmful crackers, and the consistent sale of fireworks which was prevalent before 2015 is still going on. “Firecrackers are not narcotics that someone will smoke in the bathroom. This is going on with impunity and the executive has failed to implement orders of this court,” he submitted.
He said the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has been giving certificates to firecracker manufacturers after getting into agreements with them. Sankaranarayanan alleged that the Centre has now ignored PESO completely and indirectly attempts to ensure that the barium nitrate ban is lifted. The apex court remarked that every day there is a violation of orders and in every religious event, victory processions, marriages we can see flouting of orders and we will have to fix liability on someone, else, this will not stop at all. The court then posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday and asked Sankaranarayanan to submit a separate compilation of orders.
The apex court had earlier refused to impose a complete ban on the sale of firecrackers and said that sales can happen through only licensed traders and that only green crackers can be sold. The online sale of firecrackers has been completely banned. The verdict had come in response to a plea seeking a ban on the manufacturing and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.
In the past, the apex court had said that while deciding on a ban on firecrackers, it is imperative to take into account the fundamental right of livelihood of firecracker manufacturers and the right to health of over 1.3 billion people of the country.
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