The Supreme Court has set aside a blanket ban on firecrackers imposed by the Calcutta High Court in West Bengal and ruled that certified green crackers can be sold and burst in areas where air quality is "good" or "moderate."
The ruling allowing green crackers, which are considered less polluting, comes just days ahead of Kali Puja, Diwali and other festivals.
An order in this regard was passed by a vacation bench of the Apex court comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi. The bench was hearing two petitions challenging the Calcutta HC's blanket ban on firecrackers, including green crackers. The petitions were filed by firecracker manufacturers and dealers.
The two-judge bench stated that the Supreme Court’s order dated October 29, 2021, was clear. Authorities concerned informed the court that they would abide by the regime laid down in that order.
Relying upon an order by the top court in another case involving firecrackers on Friday, the judges said, "There cannot be a complete ban of firecrackers. Strengthen the mechanism to stop misuse."
Supreme Court Justices AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi also asked the West Bengal government to explore the possibility of ensuring that banned firecrackers and related items are not imported in the state and stopped at entry points.
The judges, who assembled during the Diwali break to hear the matter, were hearing the pleas by manufacturers against the order of the high court issued on Friday banning the sale, use and purchase of all types of firecrackers in the state.
The Calcutta High Court order had come over a Public Interest Litigation filed by environmental activist Roshni Ali who sought a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers during the upcoming festivities to safeguard people's right to clean, healthy and breathable air, particularly in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"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," the High Court had said.
The ruling had stated that only wax or oil-based diyas may be used for the occasions.