The Supreme Court Friday refused to modify its order suspending the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) ahead of Diwali. A bench of Justice A K Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan, however, indicated that it had not stopped anyone from bursting crackers.
“When did we stop you from bursting crackers? Those who have purchased will anyway burst. Besides, sales are already taking place. Crackers already burst. Its not going to be a cracker-free Diwali anyway,” Justice Sikri said.
The bench made the observations when senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi — appearing for the traders hit by the firecracker ban — requested the court to allow some time to enable people to burst crackers. “The festival has celebrated for hundreds of years… Delhi is not an exception to India…There are an equal number of children and elders who want to celebrate… The court may pleased to restrict the time for bursting and restrict the time for sale,” Rohtagi submitted.
Appearing for Chennai-based ‘Indic Collective Trust’, senior counsel Sidharth Luthra also said the religious and cultural aspects of the festival of lights had not taken into account by the SC while passing the October 9 order. The festival of lights celebrated by various sections of people, he submitted.
But the court said it did not want to go into the issue now as it wanted to “experiment” if the ban will have any effect on air quality in Delhi-NCR. It, however, allowed the Trust to implead in the petition.
During the hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan — who was not a party in the case — told the court that the Delhi BJP spokesperson had stated that he will distribute fireworks to people. The court rebuked him, saying the issue should not politicised.
Justice Sikri added there were also attempts by some to give it a communal colour. “I’m so spiritual in all these matters”, he said, adding that the public reaction “anguish expressed against our order, which they entitled to”.
The SC had banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR first on November 11, 2016, citing environmental concerns.
But on September 12 this year, a two-judge bench of the court modified the order and allowed temporary licences for sale of crackers.
On October 9, a three-judge bench restored the November 11, 2016 order suspending licences, saying there was “direct evidence” of deterioration of air quality due to use of fireworks on Diwali. It said the suspension will remain in force till November 1, as this intended to test whether air quality will improve on account of it.