SC declines to interfere with Delhi govt ban on firecrackers

Supreme Court [File Photo]

Refusing to interfere with Delhi government’s complete ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers during the forthcoming festival season including Diwali, Christmas and New Year, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Delhi Police to explain why despite the ban, the firecrackers are being sold and used.

At the near fag end of the two-hour long hearing, Justice A S Bopanna heading a special bench also comprising Justice M M Sundresh asked which lawyer in the courtroom was representing the Delhi Police. The court was told that the Union government represents the Delhi Police as the same is under its control.

Justice Bopanna said the “concern is if there is a ban, then how this (sale and bursting of crackers) is happening. When there is a ban, …”


The bench said that it will hear Delhi police on it.

The hearing also saw the bench cold shoulder ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lok Sabha member Manoj Tiwari’s plea against the Kejriwal government’s complete ban on the sale and use of firecrackers during coming festival seasons.

Stating that they will not interfere with the Delhi government’s ban on the sale and use of firecrackers, Justice Bopanna said, “There are many states imposing complete ban on the sale and bursting of the firecrackers, despite the orders of this court (permitting the sale of only those crackers conforming to the green norms).”

Justice Bopanna told the advocate appearing for Tiwari, “Locally if there is a ban, there is a ban. We will not interfere, you can find other ways to celebrate”

Today’s hearing, which will now continue tomorrow as well, saw the Central government– Ministry of Environment and Climate Change – apprising the court about the efforts it has made to rein in the “unregulated” firecracker industry, which is now being transformed into a law-abiding industry.

“It would be prudent to mention … that with the efforts of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, an unregulated industry is now being transformed into a law-abiding industry,” says the affidavit filed by the MoEF & CC before the top court.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the MoEF & CC gave the details of the steps taken so far, for the enforcement of quality controls of the firecracker. ASG Bhati said that the RACE facility – a raw material, composition, emission, testing facility – has been set up in Sivakasi, a hub of the firecracker industry, for the regular and random testing of the firecrackers to enforce compliance with green norms.

The RACE, ASG Bhati told the bench will undertake to test involving the purity of the raw material/chemicals used in fireworks, testing of the composition of formulation in fireworks, and the testing of emission and sound therefrom, digital quality control, (including usage of green logo and QR code), skill training programme.

ASG told the court MoEF & CC is working with CSIR, NEERI, PESO, and CPCB. She said that firecrackers with 30 per cent less emission of particulate matter are being manufactured by the firework manufacturers which together are more than 1500.

She said that CSIR-NEERI and the firework manufacturers are jointly working together to achieve a 40 to 50% or 35 to 40% reduction in the emission of particulate matter.

One such facility has been set up in Nagpur.

The bench was also told about the mechanism that has been put in place for enforcing of these norms and imposing penalties on the violators including suspension/cancellation of licences for manufacturing fireworks.

In contrast, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing as a petitioner Arjun Gopal – now a minor – told the bench the way October 23, 2018, and the subsequent top court orders were being violated with impunity.

A petition was filed on behalf of Arjun Gopal in 2015 when he was a toddler.

Telling the court that though the use of Barium salt was banned by the top court on October 23, 2018, it was being imported in huge quantities by the firecracker manufacturers. He said that one of the firecracker manufacturers imported over one lakh kg of Barium and others imported thousands of kg.

Reinforcing his point on the violation of top court order with impunity by the firecracker manufacturers, Gopal Sankaranarayanan took the bench through the findings of the Central Bureau of Investigation that probed some of the cases.

It is these very firecracker manufacturers, Sankaranarayanan said, who are repeatedly approaching the top court seeking the modification of the October 23, 2018, and other orders.

The hearing will continue tomorrow – Thursday.