SC sets aside Calcutta HC order on complete cracker ban

'Bengal govt must be heard': SC sets aside Calcutta HC order imposing complete ban on firecrackers

At the outset, the bench asked the counsel representing the petitioners whether they have served the advance copy of the pleas to the respondents

Representative Image. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Supreme Court on Monday set aside Calcutta High Court's "extreme" order imposing a complete ban on firecrackers during Kali Puja, Diwali and other festivities.

"There may be people of all kinds but that does not mean a complete ban. We have to strengthen the mechanism against the use of banned substances like Barium salts. The order has to be consistent. West Bengal can't be an exception," a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi said.

The court was responding to contention by advocate Rachit Lakhmani appearing for writ petitioner Roshni Ali who claimed that green crackers also caused pollution and they must be burst at designated places away from hospitals and residential areas.

Also Read | Calcutta HC bans all firecrackers in Bengal during Diwali, Chhath and other festivals

West Bengal government led by senior advocate Anand Grover submitted that the HC was persuaded to pass the order on the basis of "unfounded apprehensions" and said there was a practical difficulty and lack of a mechanism to check the use of banned substances in firecrackers. He termed the court's October 29 order as "incorrect" and argued that it was passed "out of the blue".

The counsel also said the state has been scrupulously following the SC's order in 2018 regarding the use of green crackers. He pointed out that police have been monitoring the situation and had in fact lodged 24 FIRs and made 46 arrests in 2018, 22 FIRs and 26 arrests in 2019, 190 FIRs and 243 arrests in 2020 and seven FIRs and 10 arrests this year for the same.

Senior advocate Siddharth Bhatnagar appearing for an association of manufacturers and dealers of firecrackers reiterated their compliance with the top court's order passed in 2018, 2020 and this year on October 29, which did away with a complete ban on firecrackers.

Also Read | Diwali 2021: Can you burst crackers in your state?

He said Bengal's State Pollution Control Board had on October 26 allowed the sale of green crackers.

After hearing the arguments, the bench said it was setting aside the High Court's order.

"This court has reiterated the regime delineated by the National Green Tribunal on manufacturing and sale of firecrackers. To depart from that regime, some different position has to be pointed out including about inaction or collusive approach of the executive at the ground level," the bench said.

The court said the state government may take steps to ensure no banned firecrackers were brought into the state.

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