The Supreme Court on August 31 decided to examine how regulations and restrictions on the sale of “green crackers” are being enforced on the ground. A Bench of Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh scheduled the hearing for September 13 to study the “protocol to implement regulations/restrictions on the sale of green crackers”.
The court, addressing Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the government, said it would fine tune the regulatory mechanism if need be.
“If our orders are not complied with, proceedings become a mockery. There should be a regulatory mechanism to ensure compliance,” Justice Sundresh observed.
Justice Bopanna said the court would want to see whether the green crackers were actually being used as claimed. “They [firecrackers manufacturers and sellers] may say something here and actually do something else on the ground,” Justice Sundresh said.
In 2017, the apex court had banned the use and sale of toxic crackers on the basis of a petition filed by two infants, a six-month-old and 14-month-old. They had said the air pollution caused by various factors, especially firecrackers, has made Delhi a gas chamber. They pleaded for their right to life. The court had said the sale of green and improved crackers would be only through licensed traders. The court had dismissed arguments that bursting crackers was a fundamental right and an essential practice during religious festivals like Diwali.
In December 2020, the National Green Tribunal had also joined in to direct that only green crackers would be permitted for festivities, that too during an allotted time and in areas where the ambient air quality was moderate.
The Tribunal had even directed District Magistrates to ensure that toxic firecrackers were not sold.
It had reasoned that the “right to business is not absolute. There is no right to violate air quality and noise level norms”.
The court agreed with the Tribunal order and said no further clarification was required on the issue.
“We feel that Article 25 (right to religion) is subject to Article 21 (right to life). If a particular religious practice is threatening the health and lives of people, such practice is not to entitled to protection under Article 25… Our endeavour is to strive to balance the two rights, namely, right of the petitioners under Article 21 and right of the manufacturers and traders under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution,” Justice AK Sikri (retired) had observed in the 2017 judgment