Supreme Court Refuses Ban on Firecrackers
In a first of its kind petition in judicial history, 3 infants moved the Supreme Court through their advocate fathers to seek several measures to mitigate pollution and exercise their right to clean air guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court refused to order a blanket ban on firecrackers on Diwali.
Salient Points of Petitioners
- Sought the Supreme Court’s intervention against widespread use of firecrackers during Diwali and thereafter in all other events and festivities as well.
- Wanted designated places for bursting of firecrackers.
- They also wanted measures to check pollution hazards like burning crop residues, polluting vehicles and open waste disposal.
Background Reasons of Petition
- Delhi has retained the unique distinction of being the most polluted city in the world.
- The levels of particulate matter are highest in Delhi, and across the country, over 7 lakh deaths occur annually due to air-pollution related diseases.
- Studies show that Indian citizens have 30% lower lung capacity than Europeans, and that children are the worst affected, as their lungs have not yet fully developed and their systems are vulnerable.
- Major pollution in Delhi is caused by over 500 million tonnes of crop residue burnt annually in neighbouring areas, by polluting trucks that pass through the city during the night, road dust and pollution from industries.
Contentions of Group Opposing Ban on Firecrackers
- Ban on crackers would affect the Hindu tradition and hurt religious sentiments.
- Firecrackers are a means of celebrations across the world during not only Diwali, but various festivals, celebrations, victories in elections, games, marriages, etc. These celebrations cannot be thwarted by unfair restrictions.
- TheR 1,000 crore crackers’ industry provides direct employment to over 3 lakh people and indirect employment to 10 lakh. Any adverse direction against the use of crackers during Diwali would have a disastrous effect on the entire industry.
Salient Features of Supreme Court Order
- Refused to order a blanket ban on firecrackers on Diwali.
- Expressed displeasure over the central government’s failure to carry out its earlier directive to give wide publicity to the ill effects of bursting crackers.
- Asked the Centre and other authorities to start publicity campaign both in print and electronic media on the harmful impact of firecrackers during the festival season from October 31 to November 12.
- Reiterated its earlier order prohibiting the bursting of firecrackers during the night hours from 10.00 pm to 6 am.
- Turned down the plea to designate places for bursting of firecrackers, being impractical.
Comments on Supreme Court Order
- Blanket bans are very difficult to enforce, hence it is sensible not to pass such an order. The efficacy of prohibition in some Indian states is an example of ineffectiveness of such legislation and creation of black money.
- The society has to voluntarily give up such habits through education. Banning is an impractical proposition.
- A reduction in bursting of firecrackers is already taking place through education. This process should be accelerated. This will provide time for the industry to slowly reduce production and shift to alternative employment.
- Such minor social problems have to be overcome by education and not legislation in democratic societies. Indian society has not forgotten the ill experience of ‘forced sterilisations’ of the 1970s.