Cannot Infringe Citizens' Right To Life Under Guise Of Employment: Supreme Court On Firecrackers (28-09-2021)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said it cannot infringe the right to life of other citizens “under the guise of employment of few” while considering a ban on firecrackers.

A bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna said its prime focus is the right to life of innocent citizens.

“We have to strike the balance between employment, unemployment and the right to life of the citizen. Under the guise of employment of few we cannot permit others to infringe the right to life of other citizens.”

“Our prime focus is the right to life of innocent citizens. If we find green crackers are there and accepted by the committee of experts we will pass suitable orders,” the bench said, adding that in our country, the main difficulty is implementation.

“Laws are there but ultimately implementation has to be there. Our order should be implemented in true spirit,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Atmaram Nadkarni, appearing for manufacturers' association of firecrackers, said that Diwali is approaching on November 4 and they want Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) to take a decision on the issue of firecrackers.

He said the government should decide the matter as lakhs of people are unemployed in the industry.

The senior advocate said contempt must be heard and taken to a logical end but the plight of lakhs of people who are working in the industry should also be looked into.

Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing for the petitioner Arjun Gopal, said series of orders have been passed by the top court and directions have been given that PESO will give final clearance to firecrackers which are safe.

When Mr. Nadkarni interrupted Mr. Sankaranarayanan, the bench in a lighter vein said, “We don't want any bursting of crackers in the courtroom. Everybody will get a chance. Also, I'm afraid of firecrackers.”

Mr. Sankaranarayanan said, “My Lord, we assure there'll be no fire in the court, only work.”

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Ministry of Environment and Forests, said an affidavit was filed by the ministry in October 2020 and if the top court takes note of it all the interim applications will be covered in that. All the experts have come together and suggested formulations on the issue of green crackers.

Mr. Sankaranarayanan submitted that the petition was filed in 2015 dealing with multiple issues of air pollution and a series of orders were passed in subsequent years.

He contended that despite several orders, the executive is not taking appropriate action to ban harmful crackers and the consistent sale of fireworks which was prevalent before 2015 is still going on.

“Firecrackers are not narcotics that someone will smoke in the bathroom. This is going on with impunity and the executive has failed to implement orders of this court,” he submitted.

He said the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has been giving certificates to firecracker manufacturers after getting into agreements with them.

Mr. Sankaranarayanan alleged that Centre has now ignored PESO completely and indirectly attempts to ensure that barium nitrate ban is lifted.

The top court remarked that everyday there is a violation of orders and in every religious event, victory processions, marriages we can see flouting of orders and we will have to fix liability on someone, else, this will not stop at all.

The court then posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday and asked Mr. Sankaranarayanan to submit a separate compilation of orders.

The Supreme Court had earlier refused to impose complete ban on sale of firecrackers and said that sale can happen through only licensed traders and that only green crackers can be sold. Online sale of firecrackers has been completely banned.

The verdict had come in response to a plea seeking a ban on manufacturing and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.


01 Oct 2021