Supreme Court upholds ban on firecrackers during Covid-19 pandemic in places with weak AQI

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed appeals challenging the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order banning the sale and use of firecrackers during the Covid-19 pandemic in places where the Air Quality Index (AQI) ) is weak.

A bench of Judges AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna, however, said state authorities may authorize the sale as the AQI improves, and the NGT order does not contemplate prohibit manufacturing activities.

“Grievances have been raised that manufacturing activities will also be banned in the affected area if the AQI drops. The contested order does not deal with this situation. If the situation is covered by general guidelines from the Supreme Court, it must be followed in letter and spirit,” the CS said, rejecting the appeals.

Challenging the NGT order, lead attorney PS Narasimha argued that the Tribunal said there would be a total ban on firecrackers during Covid-19.

But Judge Khanwilkar pointed out that “it just depends on the air quality category. If it is serious, it will not be allowed”. He added that this “only furthers the cause of our previous judgment. There is no ban”.

In favor of a “balanced approach” to tackle the problem of air pollution due to the crackers bursting, the SC had in October 2018, in the case Arjun Gopal v Union of India, refused to order a complete ban on their sale and use. , but imposes strict conditions on their composition and use. It ruled that only low-emission crackers (enhanced crackers) and green crackers meeting permitted noise emission standards should now be manufactured and sold. He also banned their sale online and ordered that they could only be sold through licensed traders.

Narasimha pointed out that the 2018 ruling allowed the sale of green crackers.

The SC said NGT considered the same and took a moderate stance. “This is limited to Covid times. They are reasonable… It’s not like a general ban has been imposed… It’s not a total ban. There is a misinterpretation of the judgment,” Judge Khanwilkar said.

Lawyer J Sai Deepak, representing a vendor, said the SC in 2018 took a strong stance on green crackers no matter how bad the air quality is, but the NGT ordinance contradicts it. with the decision of the SC. He argued that if any change needed to be made, it should be made in the 2018 order and in the case before the NGT. Praying for clarification on the situation, he said executive authorities were reluctant to make a decision due to the confusion.

But the court disagreed and said the ban was still a subjective matter and the seller couldn’t say they didn’t know something had happened. “It was a graduated test, get a license and sell elsewhere,” Judge Khanna said.

Lawyer Sai Deepak then pointed out that “according to a report by IIT Kanpur, firecracker is not even in the list of top 15 factors that contribute to air pollution.”

To this, Judge Khanwilkar replied, “Do you need IIT to understand that firecrackers have an impact on your lungs? Ask anyone staying in Delhi what happens during Diwali. We’ve come a long way since 2017, and we’re in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. »

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