SC rules out countrywide ban on firecrackers

The Supreme Court today refused a plea for nationwide blanket ban on the manufacturing and sale of firecrackers to curb air pollution. The verdict was delivered by a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan which had reserved its verdict on August 28. The apex court also said that no eCommerce website will be permitted to sell crackers this Diwali and anyone found selling shall be hauled for contempt. The verdict comes just before Diwali and amid worsening air quality in many parts of the country, including in capital Delhi.

However, the Supreme Court set the stage for a quieter and less smoky Diwali across the country as it banned the manufacture and sale of all fire crackers except those specified by the Centre. The top court also re-imposed time limits from 8 to 10 pm to burst crackers on Diwali. It also stipulated a 35-minute window for new year celebrations setting a time between 11:55 pm to 12:30 am for bursting crackers. No fire crackers would be burst during the day, it said.

It ordered the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to give clearances to crackers only if they comply with court order and completely banned online sale. Crackers which are to be to be sold need to meet the sound level limits.

Firecrackers manufacturers earlier told the court that use of firecrackers should not be completely banned and it should instead be strictly regulated. They have contended that the crackers are not the reason for increase in air pollution and there are other factors, like wind and temperature, which contribute to it. They have said the firecracker manufacturers can be deprived of their right to do business based on statements which were not supported by facts.

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