The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified its order on the sale of firecrackers saying that firecrackers other than green crackers will not be sold in the Delhi-NCR region this festival season. A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said firecrackers already produced can be sold this festival season but only in other parts of the country.
In Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and other southern states, firecrackers can be burst from 4 am to 5 am and from 9 pm to 10 pm during festivals, the apex court said. The apex court said its direction on community bursting of firecrackers will apply pan India for two hours.
Its directions on the ban on the sale of firecrackers through e-commerce websites will apply pan India, the court said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the top court had modified its previous ruling on the bursting of firecrackers and allowed the state government to fix the timing for doing so during big festivals. The top court modified its earlier order by which bursting of firecrackers was allowed between 8 PM to 10 PM on Diwali, according to news agency ANI.
The top court even allowed the state governments to fix the timing with a rider that the total timing must not exceed beyond two hours in a day. The court also clarified that its order on burning green firecrackers will be applicable only in Delhi.
The top court passed the order while responding to a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government in which urged it to allow bursting of firecrackers on Diwali morning as per religious practices in the state, besides the already permitted period between 8 PM to 10 PM.
The plea, filed through advocate B Vinod Khanna, sought modification of apex court order that allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 PM to 10 PM on Diwali and other festivals and said the state should be given permission between 4.30 AM to 6.30 AM as well.
According to the petition, as far as Diwali celebrations are concerned, each state or sect has a separate set of beliefs, traditions and culture and the apex court's restriction would amount to "rejecting the people with their due religious rights and would subject the people of the state into much hardship".
"Diwali is a practice religiously and scrupulously followed by the Hindus from time immemorial and it had become a core and essential religious practice which is also protected under Article 25 of the Constitution as their fundamental right," it said.
Diwali is celebrated in the state early in the morning to commemorate the death of Narakashura, the evil slain by the Goddess in the early hours of dawn, it said.
The plea contended that the modification sought by it was in the interest of the environment.
"It would be in the interest of environment not to subject the entire population to burst firecrackers within a stipulated short time as it would lead to la arger volume of emissions within a short span. Permitting people to burst firecrackers at two different times with due intervals would facilitate dissemination of the smoke.
"Further, making fire and rescue facilities available in case of any mishap would also be convenient when crackers are burst at different points of time with intervals than in the case of the entire mass bursting crackers within limited hours," it said.
The petition also sought permission to allow people to continue to celebrate Diwali in their traditional way by bursting firecrackers in the early morning as well as during the time fixed by the top court.
"In view of the presence of large population of people from other states of India in Tamil Nadu, it is necessary to permit them to celebrate Diwali as per their religious practice in the evening hours," it said.
The top court had on October 23, said that people in the country can burst firecrackers from 8 PM to 10 PM only on Diwali and other festivals and had allowed manufacture and sale of just "green crackers" which have a low emission of light, sound and harmful chemicals.
It had carved out an exception for the Christmas and the New Year eve saying that crackers for these occasions would be burst between 11.55 PM and 12.30 AM, since these celebrations start at midnight.
It also banned the manufacture, sale and use of joined firecrackers (series crackers or laris) saying that they cause "huge air, noise and solid waste problems".
The apex court had said the noise and smoke emission limits of the crackers will have to be approved by the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organization (PESO), under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.