The Supreme Court suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR till November 1, 2017 in a bid to test whether a Deepavali without firecrackers this year will have a “positive effect” on the health of citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality. A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Sapre and Ashok Bhushan reverted to its November 2016 decision to suspend sales of firecrackers “to test itself to find out whether there would be a positive effect of this suspension, particularly during Deepavali period.”
The need of Ban:
- “There is virtually a consensus in society that crackers should not be burnt during Deepavali, which can be celebrated with equal fervour by various other means as well…We have the direct evidence of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels, which happens every year.
- As already pointed out above, burning of these firecrackers during Deepavali in 2016 had shot up pm [particulate matter] levels by three times, making Delhi the worst city in the world, insofar as air pollution is concerned.
- Direct and immediate cause thereof was burning of crackers during Deepavali,” the court reasoned in its 20-page judgment.
- But the court said its September 12, 2017 decision — saying a total ban on firecrackers’ sale in Delhi NCR is too “radical a step” and a graded, gradual approach to a complete ban should be adopted — would be effective from November 1.
- The judgment came on petitions challenging the September 12 modification of the November 2016 ban on sale of firecrackers.
- Perusing records, the Bench pointed to the various efforts made by the government, media and civil society to create awareness of the harms of bursting firecrackers, especially on children.
Effects of Firecrackers:
- The adverse effects of burning of crackers during Deepavali have been witnessed year after year.
- The air quality deteriorates abysmally and the city chokes.
- It leads to closing the schools and the authorities are compelled to take various measures on emergent basis, when faced with a “health emergency”.
- The judgment said the September 12 verdict modifying the ban on sale of firecrackers was taken without the knowledge of the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) consistent stand for the past 20 years that sulphur in fireworks should not be permitted.
- “Sulphur on combustion produces sulphur-dioxide and the same is extremely harmful to health.
- The CPCB has stated that between 9 p.m. to midnight on Deepavali day, the levels of sulphur-dioxide content in the air is dangerously high.
- Moreover, all the authorities were unanimous in their view that crackers should only be burst in designated places.
- Also the CPCB had specifically stated that joined crackers should be banned by way of their letter dated November 04, 1996 to the Commissioner of Police. Neither the CPCB nor the Delhi Police divulged this fact to this court.