E-commerce platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon have been directed not to conduct online sale of firecrackers. Photo: AP
New Delhi: Refusing to impose a complete ban on sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali, the Supreme Court conditionally allowed sale of fireworks that meet low emission and decibel standards.
A bench comprising Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan set the duration for bursting firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm for Diwali and between 11:55 pm and 12:30 am on other occasions like Christmas and New Year.
“We have tried to strike a balance among various stakeholders. The Centre’s suggestions have been incorporated,” Justice Sikri said.
E-commerce platforms like Flipkart and Amazon have also been directed to not sell fireworks online.
The court had earlier observed that there was a need to strike a balance between the right to health of citizens and the right to carry on trade by fireworks manufacturers.
A complete ban was opposed by the Centre, which argued conditions could be imposed on manufactures and sale of high-decibel firecrackers instead.
Fireworks manufacturers had challenged the ban, arguing firecrackers alone could not be held as the reason for pollution during Diwali and an entire industry should not be shut down as a consequence. They contended that pollution in Delhi was the result of other factors like vehicular pollution, construction dust and crop stubble burning.
Ahead of Diwali last year, the apex court had banned the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) in response to a petition from three children. Any temporary licences issued by the police to firecracker manufacturers were also to remain suspended for the same time period.
The court had passed this order reimposing its earlier order of 11 November 2016 suspending sale of firecrackers so as to test the suspension order and ascertain its positive effect on the air quality in the NCR during the Diwali period.
The order of 11 November 2016 suspending licences for sale of firecrackers was operative until the next year but its impact had not been tested during the Diwali period.
On 12 September, 2017, a two-judge bench comprising Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta partially lifted the ban order and asked establishments with permanent licenses to utilize their existing stocks and not sell fresh stock. It had also reduced the number of temporary licences by the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by 50%. Temporary licences in Delhi were capped at 500.
The court was hearing a plea by three children seeking restoration of last year’s order banning sale of firecrackers in view of the worsening air quality in the NCR.