The High Court of Karnataka has upheld the police department's decision to withdraw the no-objection certificate issued for sale of firecrackers within Bengaluru city limits.

Perhaps for the first time ever, photographs of people injured by firecrackers are used in the judgment papers. These show images of youngsters and children who lost eyesight due to firecracker injuries.

The High Court said that "This would make the Makers of the Constitution to shiver in their grave. There cannot be a greater violation of the right to life, limb and liberty," the High Court said on the page where the photographs are inserted.

The single judge bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit rejected the contention of several traders who had challenged the police department's decision.

The Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru had withdrawn the NOC to these traders in 2012. The Director General of Police, Karnataka had upheld the Commissioner's order in 2013. The traders had challenged it in the HC which gave its judgement on July 29, 2022.

Dismissing the petitions, the High Court said, "Indisputably the ill effects of firecrackers cause irreversible damage to the environment. Apart from infants, expectant mothers and patients (more particularly those having heart ailment and high blood pressure) even animals and birds too feel the violence due to bursting of crackers."

The Bench then quoted "sarve bhavantu sukhinaha, sarve santu niraamayah' from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad with its meaning "let all people be happy and all creatures be free from affliction" to say, "What right humans have to perpetrate acts of violence when our scriptures edict".

The rule will now apply to every trader and not just the petitioners before the High Court. "If the petitioners have to shift their 'apple carts' to safer areas, quitting the lanes in question, other similarly circumstanced businessmen cannot be permitted to cling on to the same area. What applies to goose applies to gander, as rightly contended by the counsel for the State," the judgement said.

The court said the sale of firecrackers falls under the category of goods like poison, liquor, tobacco and explosives and therefore its trade cannot be covered under the Fundamental Right guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.

"It hardly needs to be stated that the explosive substances being 'res extra commercium' like the liquor, poison, etc., no citizen can claim an unrestricted fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution," the High Court said.

Cause Title: M/s. Madhi Trading Co. & Ors. v. The Joint Chief Controller of Explosives & Ors.

Click here to read/download Order

With PTI inputs