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Supreme Court rules out blanket ban on firecrackers, imposes restrictions

The verdict comes just before Diwali and amid worsening air quality in many parts of the country, including in capital Delhi.

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A firecrackers shop in Delhi, PTI
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused a nationwide blanket ban on the manufacturing and sale of firecrackers but imposed certain restrictions to limit its impact on the environment.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and AK Sikri permitted the sale and manufacture of "green" firecrackers which have low emission across the country. The bench fixed the 8 pm to 10 pm time period for bursting of firecrackers on Diwali and other festivals.

The apex court also restrained e-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon from selling firecrackers which are beyond the permissible limit. The top court's order came on a plea seeking a ban on manufacture and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution. 

The bench had reserved its verdict on August 28 after hearing all parties. The verdict comes just before Diwali and amid worsening air quality in many parts of the country, including in capital Delhi.

The apex court had earlier said there is a need to take into account all aspects, including the fundamental right of livelihood of firecracker manufacturers and the right to health of over 1.3 billion people in the country while considering a plea for the ban.

The top court had said Article 21 (right to life) of Constitution applies to both segments of people and it needs to maintain a balance while considering a countrywide ban on firecrackers. It had asked the Centre to suggest measures to be taken for curbing the pollution and what will be the effect of firecrackers on the public at large.

The apex court had on August 8 said a spike in PM 2.5 levels in the air is a severe problem as the particulate matter remains in people's lungs, leading to serious health implications.

Firecrackers manufacturers earlier told the court that use of firecrackers should not be completely banned and it should instead be strictly regulated. They have contended that the crackers are not the reason for increase in air pollution and there are other factors, like wind and temperature, which contribute to it.

They have said the firecracker manufacturers can be deprived of their right to do business based on statements which were not supported by facts.

On October 9 last year, the top court temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali. Later, the court refused to relax its order while dismissing a plea by traders who had sought permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali on October 19, 2017.

The apex court said its ban order during Diwali that year was an experiment to examine its effect on the pollution levels in the region.

(With PTI inputs)

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