The Supreme Court on Wednesday, October 6, said that under the guise of green crackers, banned materials are being used by firecracker manufacturers and reiterated that its earlier order banning joint crackers (interconnected crackers like garlands and ladis which cause noise pollution) must be complied with by every state. A bench of Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna said the top court is not averse to celebration but not at the cost of life of other citizens.
Celebration does not mean use of loud crackers, it can also be with "fuljhaddi" and the like which are not noisy, it said. "Our earlier order must be complied with by every state. Despite the fact that there is a specific ban on joint crackers, if you go to any state or city or any celebration, joint crackers are openly available in the market. Our order must be complied with. It is not the question whether one content or the other. It is being sold openly in the market and used by people. We would like to know if a ban is there, how come they are available in markets," the bench said.
As the hearing commenced, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for petitioner Arjun Gopal, submitted that they have filed an additional affidavit on the basis of the CBI report and what has transpired is indeed very disturbing. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for manufacturers' association of firecrackers, contended that the industry should work as per the protocol issued by the government.
"It is an organised industry. Around five lakh families depend on us. So far Sivakasi is concerned, we are taking all the precautions," Dave said.
The apex court said the main difficulty is about implementation of the orders issued by it. "Have you seen the reply by the manufacturers? What they say is very surprising. They say that when they are found to have purchased a huge quantity of barium salt, it is to be kept in godown but not to be used for manufacture. It's not for show that they are keeping it godown," the bench said.
Senior advocate Rajiv Dutta said if one or two manufacturers are violating the orders the whole industry should not suffer.
The apex court asked the parties to exchange copies of counter affidavits filed in response to the CBI report and posted the matter for hearing on October 26. The apex court had earlier said the CBI report on use of toxic chemicals in manufacturing of firecrackers is very serious and "prima facie" it appears that there has been violation of the court's orders on use of barium and labelling of fireworks.
It had noted that manufacturers such as Hindustan Fireworks and Standard Fireworks purchased barium in huge quantities and used these chemicals in the fireworks.
The apex court had on March 3, 2020 directed the Joint Director, CBI at Chennai to make a detailed investigation and submit report within six weeks on the alleged violation of the court's earlier orders by the manufacturers by using the ingredients which have been banned and mislabeling their products contrary to the directions of this court.
It had taken a stern view of the issue when senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan stated that these manufacturers were openly flouting the court's order.
The apex court had ordered six manufacturers to show cause why they should not be punished for contempt of its orders.
The SC had said it cannot infringe the right to life of other citizens under the guise of employment while considering a ban on firecrackers and its prime focus is the right to life of innocent citizens.
The apex court had earlier refused to impose complete ban on sale of firecrackers and said that sale can happen through only licensed traders and that only green crackers can be sold. Online sale of firecrackers has been completely banned. The verdict had come in response to a plea seeking a ban on manufacturing and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.
In the past, the apex court had said that while deciding on a ban on firecrackers, it is imperative to take into account the fundamental right of livelihood of firecracker manufacturers and the right to health of over 1.3 billion people of the country.