The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed appeals challenging the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruling banning the sale and use of firecrackers during COVID-19 pandemic in areas with a low Air Quality Index (AQI).
However, a panel of judges AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna said government agencies can authorize the sale when and when AQI improves, and that the NGT order does not prohibit production activities.
“Discontent was expressed that production activities would also be banned in the relevant zone if the AQI falls. The contested order does not address this situation. If the situation is governed by the general directives of the Supreme Court, they must be followed, letter and spirit, ”said the Supreme Court, rejecting the appeals.
Challenging the NGT order, PS Narasimha’s senior lawyer said the Tribunal had said there would be a complete ban on firecrackers during Covid-19.
But Judge Hanvilkar pointed out that “it only depends on the air quality category. If it’s hard, they won’t allow it. ” He added that this “only contributes to the case of our earlier verdict. There is no ban. “
Supporting a “balanced approach” to tackling air pollution from the explosion of crackers, SC in October 2018, in Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, refused a complete ban on their sale and use. , but imposed strict conditions on their composition and use. He ruled that henceforth only produce and sell low-emission crackers (improved crackers) and green crackers that meet acceptable noise standards. It also banned them from being sold online and ruled that they can only be sold through licensed traders.
Narasimha noted that the 2018 decision allowed the sale of green crackers.
SC said NGT felt the same and took a moderate stance. “It’s limited to Covid times. This is reasonable … This is not like a total ban … This is not a total ban. The verdict has been misinterpreted, ”said Judge Khanvilkar.
Lawyer Jay Sai Deepak, speaking on behalf of the seller, said SC took a strong stance on green crackers in 2018 regardless of the severity of air quality, but the NGT order conflicts with SC’s decision. He argued that if any changes need to be made, it should be done in the 2018 order and in question before NGT. Asking to clarify the situation, he said that the executive authorities do not want to make a decision because of the confusion.
But the court disagreed and said that the ban is always a subjective matter, and the seller cannot say that he did not know that something had happened. “It was the criterion of evaluation: get a license and sell somewhere else,” said Judge Hannah.
Lawyer Sai Deepak then pointed out that “according to the IIT Kanpur report, the fire intruder is not even included in the list of 15 major contributors to air pollution.”
To this Judge Hanvilkar replied, “Do you need the IIT to understand that fire crackers are affecting your lungs? Ask someone who lives in Delhi what happens during Diwali. We have come a long way since 2017 and are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. ”