WB: Cracker ban order set aside

New Delhi [India] : The Supreme Court has set aside the Calcutta High Court order putting a blanket ban on the sale, purchase and use of all kinds of firecrackers in the state during Kali Puja, Diwali celebrations and some other festivities this year to check air pollution amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A special Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi remarked that the top court has already passed an order regulating the use of firecrackers which use polluting materials. It said, “There cannot be a complete ban on firecrackers. Strengthen mechanism to supervise and implement (Supreme Court’s earlier order).”
The Bench said its order will be applicable to all states uniformly and West Bengal cannot be an exception.
The apex court termed the High Court order as an “extreme order”, said it has taken a consistent view on the matter and restated its October 29, 2021 order which reiterated its October 2018 order that there is no total ban.
In the order, the Bench stated, “The State submits that officials are taking necessary steps to ensure that directions issued by this Court (Supreme Court) are complied with in letter and spirit. We set aside the impugned order and permit any person interested to approach High Court by placing all relevant materials.”
The top court was hearing an appeal against the Calcutta High Court’s October 29 order banning the sale, purchase and use of all firecrackers in the state this year.
The appeal filed by the chairman of a West Bengal-based firecracker association and another such group stated that the High Court order was “patently erroneous” in holding a complete ban on firecrackers within West Bengal when the apex court has allowed the use of green firecrackers in permissible limit across all states.
The petitioners have said that they represent the interest of about seven lakh families who are involved in the process of manufacture and sale of fireworks and are involved in the fireworks industry in one manner or another.
They said if a blanket ban is imposed in this season on the sale and use of firecrackers in West Bengal, the sellers and manufacturers will have to suffer irreparable losses which may “lead to a complete shutdown of the firecracker industry altogether”.
The High Court in its order had said that the expression “firecrackers” will cover all types of sparklers as well as other similar materials, whether or not their bursting or burning involves any sound or light generation.
The order had stated, “The state should ensure that there is no use or display or bursting of firecrackers of any type at all during Kali Puja, Diwali celebrations as well as Chhath Puja, Jagadhatri Puja, Guru Nanak’s Birthday and Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations this year.” It said that only wax or oil-based diyas may be used for the occasions.
On October 29, the top court had said celebration cannot be at the cost of others’ health and clarified that while there is no total ban on the use of firecrackers, fireworks that contain Barium salts are prohibited.
It had warned that top officials at various levels shall be held personally liable for any lapses. The top court had said it is unfortunate that despite various directions issued by it there is a blatant violation going on.

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