Ban on sale of crackers: SC picks public health over cultural practices

An Indian shopkeeper sells fire crackers in New Delhi

An Indian shopkeeper sells fire crackers in New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that there will be no sale of firecrackers during Diwali, as it restored a November 2016 order, banning the sale and stocking of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region. The Supreme Court then declared the ban suspended for some time, in a ruling that firecracker makers said was "well-reasoned". For around a week after Diwali a year ago, the region had become a kind of gas chamber because of the burning of crackers in Delhi-NCR and stubble burning in nearby states, forcing the closure of schools.

The court hopes the ban, which will also cover the festival falling on October 19, will help improve air quality in the Capital.

Meanwhile, a petioner lawyer Pooja Dhar said that the court will take further decision, taking into account the impact on air quality during this period.

The top court said it has not changed the September 12 order but its November 11, 2016 order banning the sale of firecrackers "should be given a chance". It had also cut temporary licences of the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by 50%. But the effect of that order would not be discernible as in the judgment dated September 12, 2017, the said order stands relaxed.

There is no denying that Delhi-NCR witnessed one of the worst spells of smog and ultra-elevated levels of air pollution in November 2016, to claim that this was caused by firecrackers alone is problematic.

Delhi is considered to be the most polluted city in the world. Possibility of people buying crackers from other States & bursting in Delhi NCR can not be ruled out and in such case Delhi traders will be in disadvantageous position and will loose business to their counterparts in other States. Remember the pictures of smog-filled Delhi air after Diwali celebrations past year? This year, Supreme Court has chose to not let the crackers be a reason behind the increasing pollution of Delhi.

The children had argued: "We are the most vulnerable category when it comes to air pollution, especially from suspended particles and toxins". He referred to Article 142 as "one of the most misused provisions of the Constitution", used to justify the liquor ban and the national anthem order.

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