Infants' plea to restrict crackers sent to SC's special bench

A petition filed by three infants through their fathers against the use of loud fire-crackers was transferred by the Supreme Court to its Social Justice Bench.

New Delhi: A petition filed by three infants through their fathers against the use of loud fire-crackers during the festival of Diwali and Dussehra was transferred by the Supreme Court to its Social Justice Bench on Tuesday.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu transferred the plea to the special bench after the lawyer appearing for the petitioner sought early hearing of the petition.

The petition, filed by the fathers on behalf of the three toddlers aged between six and 14 months, has stressed on their right to be brought up in a pollution-free environment and sought that government agencies be restrained from issuing licence for sale of crackers in the national capital.

The plea said the widespread use of firecrackers in Delhi during the festive season exposed vulnerable infants to severe diseases such as asthma and worsens lung condition.

"They are foremost prone to lung disease, asthma, coughing, bronchitis, retarded nervous system development and cognitive impairment," the infant petitioners Arjun Goyal, Aarav Bhandari and Zoya Rao Bhasin submitted through their lawyer Gopal Shankar Narayan.

The plea said the right of their kids to breathe clean air is essential for a conducive environment for growth and development and blamed the authorities for not laying down guidelines regarding the sale of crackers.

"Authorities haven't laid down any guidelines to ensure that manufacturers or sellers conform to environmental norms while distributing these crackers. A look at the licences will show that environmental and pollution concerns are furthest from the minds of the Government representatives," it said.

"The imminent advent of festivals that involve widespread fireworks are a clear and present danger to the health of the Applicants and the other children who are residents of Delhi," the petition said.

The plea also cited a study in Bangalore showing how a widespread awareness campaign and enforcement mechanisms led to a sharp 32 per cent decline in pollution levels there during Diwali time in 2013 compared to 2012.

The petition said that a 2005 top court ruling restricting use of fireworks beyond 10 pm had brought some respite to Delhi'ites, but studies thereafter revealed that cases of wheezing, respiratory diseases, exacerbation of bronchial asthma and bronchitis increase by 40 per cent during Diwali.

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