While clarifying the orders passed previously qua the applicability, the Supreme Court has said that the ban imposed on firecrackers during Diwali is not only for the Delhi NCR region but is instead applicable to all states across the country.

The bench was hearing an interlocutory application in a batch of petitions praying to impose a complete ban on barium infused firecrackers, specifically seeking steps to curb air pollution in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Appropriate direction to the State of Rajasthan and the District Administration of Udaipur was thus sought for to immediately take steps to prevent air pollution in the city.

A bench of Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice M.M. Sundresh thus observed, “…at this juncture we are of the opinion that no specific orders would be necessary in the application inasmuch as this Court in the course of dealing with the petition, has passed several orders where the steps have been indicated to minimize and to avoid air as well as noise pollution. Hence, the said orders would bind every State in this country including the State of Rajasthan. Therefore, we make it clear that the State of Rajasthan also would take note of this and take all steps to minimize the air/noise pollution not only during the festival season but even thereafter”.

The bench initially intended to dispose of the application, however, the applicant prayed not to, while highlighting the fact that Udaipur is a hotspot for destination weddings, therefore a situation might arise in the future as well for court to consider.

At the outset, the counsel for the applicant contended that there is a confusion or a perception that the previous orders of the Supreme Court allowing manufacture and sale of only green crackers and banning firecrackers with barium, was only applicable to Delhi and not to other States. The bench during the arguments also noted that the children are being taught in schools to create awareness, and it is in fact the “elders” who burst crackers and not the young.

The plea was originally filed in 2015, on behalf of three infants, the petitioners before the Apex Court, who sought a blanket ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) citing deteriorating air quality.

Pursuant to which, the Apex Court passed several interim orders in the matter. In the 2018 judgment of the Court, a bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan while banning barium salts in the fireworks, also banned the manufacture, sale and use of joined firecrackers (series crackers or laris) as the same causes huge air, noise and solid waste problems.

However, the bench even clarified in the 2018 judgment that “Our discussion pertaining to the arguments based on Article 19(1)(g), Article 25 as well as the argument of loss of substantial revenue and unemployment, in cases the manufacture and sale of the firecrackers is totally banned, is prima facie and we have not given our conclusive determination. It is because of want of detailed studies on various aspects which have been mentioned and taken note of during discussion in this order. However, we also make it clear that, prima facie, we do not find much merit in these arguments for which we have given our reasons in brief”.

In a 2021 order, the Court had noted that considering the matter pertained to public interest and that it affects the health of innocent citizens including senior citizens and children, it is the duty of all the States to ensure implementation of the Court’s directions. While clarifying that there is no total ban on use of firecrackers, the bench in the order noted, “No authority can be permitted the violation of the directions issued by this Court and permit banned firecrackers under the guise of celebration. Celebration cannot be at the cost of the other’s health. Under the guise of 9celebration, nobody can be permitted to infringe the right to health of the others, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and nobody can be permitted to play with the life of the others, more particularly the senior citizens and the children”.

An application had been filed in 2021 to bring on record the tests done by ‘Awaaz Foundation’ alleging that the banned firecrackers are being manufactured, used and sold though they are specifically banned by the Apex Court, It further alleged that ‘green crackers’ are being sold in the market by fireworks manufacturers containing chemicals that have been banned by this Court and not only that but even the fake QR codes are printed on the boxes and mislabelling them as ‘green crackers’.

Cause Title: Arjun Gopal & Ors. v. Union Of India . & Ors.

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