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The Supreme Court, in the case of Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, has issued an order dated 09.10.2017 (Order) to ban the sale of fireworks (including fire crackers) in the territory of Delhi-NCR till 01.11.2017 in order to control the deteriorating quality of air in this region and to reduce the adverse effects of bursting fireworks during the festival of Diwali. The Apex Court has, therefore, ordered for suspension of licenses for storing and selling fireworks in the Delhi and NCR area and added that it may issue further orders depending on the situation that may emerge during the Diwali season.

The Supreme Court had issued a similar order last year when the bursting of fire crackers during Diwali appeared to be one of the major causes of worsening air quality in the Delhi-NCR area as a result of which various schools had to be closed and authorities had to take various measures on health emergency basis. The Supreme Court added that the impact of that order could only be tested during the festive season of Diwali.

According to the Order, although this suspension may have an adverse effect on the business of permanent and other license holders but currently, their primary concern is public health and to ensure that people are not compelled to breathe poor quality air, there is a dire need to ban the sale of fireworks in the Delhi-NCR area and to observe its resultant effect on the air quality.

This suspension has seen a huge uproar amongst the fireworks-manufacturers but on the other side, various doctors and environmentalists have happily welcomed this decision of the Supreme Court. The affected traders had filed an interim application on 13.10.2017 seeking modification of the Order of suspension of license for sale of firecrackers in the Delhi-NCR ahead of Diwali but the Apex Court has refused to modify the Order and stated that the traders had been granted temporary licenses only up to 21.10.2017 and therefore, in pursuance of the Order dated 09.10.2017, they may seek renewal of their temporary licenses w.e.f. 01.11.2017 and this request may be considered by the police authorities.

It has also been reported that the Supreme Court has said that most of the traders had already sold their old stock of fire crackers before the pronouncement of this Order and therefore, it may not entirely be a Diwali without bursting of crackers.

As a result, the effect of the Order dated 09.10.2017 on the air quality may be observed only after 01.11.2017 when the Supreme Court may decide on lifting of the ban or pass any other order, whichever it deems fit.

 

Harini Daliparthy

The Indian Lawyer

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