The Supreme Court on Friday reiterated that green crackers and those mentioned in the approved list of firecrackers will be allowed while all others especially those containing harmful barium salts and those found to be injurious to the health of citizens - particularly senior citizens and children - are banned.
"It is made clear that there is no total ban on use of firecrackers," the bench comprising Justice MR Shah and AS Bopanna said.
The top court asserted that state officials would be held personally liable if it could not prevent the sale of joined firecrackers (ladis) and other banned toxic merchandise. "Any lapse on the part of the State Governments/State Agencies and Union Territories shall be viewed very seriously and if it is found that any banned firecrackers are manufactured, sold and used in any particular area, the Chief Secretary of the concerned States, the Home secretaries Home of the concerned states and the Commissioner of Police of the concerned area, District Superintendent of Police of the concerned area and the SHO/Police Officer-in-charge shall be held personally liable," the court order read.
The top court also directed the state and union territories to strictly enforce its guidelines regarding the sale and use of firecrackers ahead of the festive season which begins with the Diwali celebrations from November 1.
Not averse to celebrations, but cannot celebrate at the cost of life: SC
Arjun Gopal, one of the three minors who knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court seeking reprieve from the hazardous air pollution, filed the plea to highlight that firecrackers were banned by in accordance with orders passed in 2018 were still being sold under the garb of green crackers.
Expressing their displeasure at the blatant violations of its directions, the Supreme Court said that no authority could be permitted to do the same. It also said that celebration cannot come at the cost of the health of others. "Under the guise of celebration, 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," the court said.
The Supreme Court on Thursday also clarified that the firecracker ban was not targeted at any community or religion, but the aim rather was to protect the right to life of the citizens. "Nobody should believe that this order or that order is against a particular so and so...this (ban) is for everybody. We are not against enjoyment and celebrations but can anybody say this enjoyment can happen at the cost of lives of the others?" the bench had asked.
Calcutta HC bans fireworks in WB
Days before Diwali and Kali Pujo festivities are set to begin in West Bengal, the Calcutta High Court directed a complete ban on the usage and sale of all firecrackers including green crackers. The high court has permitted the sale and use of wax or oil-based diyas only.
Extending the ban to all festivities including Chhath Puja, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Christmas and New Year's, the high court said "practical realities" needed to be kept in mind since there was "no mechanism" to ascertain if firecrackers that were being bought and sold were green crackers only.
It would be an impossible task for the police and other law enforcement officials to inspect firecrackers and the classification under which they are sold, the high court said justifying the ban.
Which States Have Banned Firecrackers?
Delhi: The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has imposed a complete ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers in the national capital till January 1, 2022. The order is a reiteration of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's September 15 announcement of the ban which was 'essential to save lives'.
Haryana: The Haryana State Pollution Board (HSPB) has imposed a complete ban on firecrackers in all 14 districts with immediate effect.
Which States Have Relaxations For Firecrackers?
Karnataka: According to fresh guidelines released on Saturday, the state government said that the sale of firecrackers will be allowed at designated places outside residential areas between November 1-10. There must be a six-meter distance between the shops.
Maharashtra: The State government has urged the people not to burst firecrackers and opt for lighting diyas only. The Uddav Thackerey-led government has also urged shoppers from overcrowding markets and follow COVID-safety protocols.
Uttar Pradesh: The Yogi Adityanath-led government on October 29 banned the sale and use of all firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) and all other cities where the Air Quality Level (AQI) falls under the 'poor' or worse category.
"Restrict use of firecrackers in cities where air quality is 'moderate' or below to green crackers only for not more than two hours. During Christmas and New Year, green crackers can be used from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am only where air quality is 'moderate' or lower," the circular issued by the home department read.
Punjab: People are allowed to burst "green crackers" only for a period of two hours 8 pm-10 pm on Diwali and Guru Purab. Fireworks will be allowed for 35 minutes on Christmas and New Year Eve.
However, the government has lifted this ban in Mandi Gobindgarh and Jalandhar. District magistrates of nine non-attainment cities will take a call and pass appropriate orders depending on the AQI level in that area at the time.
Rajasthan: Firecrackers have been banned till January 31, 2022. "Bursting of crackers has been banned in the state due to the harmful effects it has on the respiratory systems of those who have or are suffering from Covid-19. One's immunity system is affected adversely by the smoke of crackers and it also harms the elderly, those suffering from asthma or other co-morbidities," the state government's order read.
Assam: The Assam Pollution Control Board (APCB) has imposed a blanket ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers. Green crackers are allowed for two hours from 8 pm-10 pm during Diwali, from 6 am-8 am during Chhath Puja, and from 11:55 pm-12:30 am on Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Madhya Pradesh: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned firecrackers in the state the high pollution levels into account. People residing in areas with low AQI can burst green crackers for only two hours on Diwali.
There is a 35 min relaxation between 11:55 pm-12:30 am on Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Odisha: The state government's ban on firecrackers was challenged before the Orissa High Court. However, since the Supreme Court's orders in the Arjun Gopal matter were not out at the time of the hearing, the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) has been directed to hear the appeals on Saturday and pass a reasoned order before 10:30 am on Monday November 1.
The high court will hear the appeal at 2 pm on Monday.