Cracker Ban Order: SC Laments Communal Twist, Refuses Relief
Court says ban an experiment to gauge air quality; sales can resume from Nov 1
New Delhi: The Supreme Court refused to vacate its order banning the sale of crackers in the National Capital Region until the end of this month, saying it was only a temporary experiment to gauge air quality, and lamented the communal twist given to its direction. The bench clarified on Friday that it had not banned the bursting of crackers and contested the argument that Diwali festivities would be affected. “Who said we have banned the bursting of crackers? The existing stockpile of crackers is enough,” Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan observed.
“Very frankly, suspension of sales has not dampened Diwali celebrations. Sales are already taking place. Crackers are already being burst. It is not anyway going to be a cracker- Source: Delhi Pollution Control Committee, PTI
free Diwali,” Justice Sikri said.
OnMonday,athree-judgebenchled by Justice Sikri imposed a complete ban on cracker sales until October 31, overturning a two-judge bench orderinSeptemberthatallowedpartial sales in the run-up to Diwali. Licence holders affected by the sudden ban moved the court against the decision, as had others who claimed it was against Hindu sentiments.
Refusing to vacate the ban, the twojudge bench took pains to point out that it had weighed all aspects of the problem, including the religious one. “We are not going to modify (the order) as that will go against the spirit of our order. We are pained that some people are giving it a communal colour. Our concern primarilywasthehealthof themasses,”the bench said. Justice Sikri said he was spiritual and religious, too, but this was a legal issue.
“We have clearly said that this is an experiment for this year,” he said.
The bench brushed off statements by certain political leaders criticising the ban, saying they were entitled to their views. “We take it that it is an expression of anguish against our order,” it said.
Appearing for the traders, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi called for a relaxation of the ban. Diwali, he contended, has been celebrated for hundreds of years all over the country and Delhi is no exception. There are children who wait for Diwali celebrations, he said, urging the court to allow the sale of crackers for a few days before Diwali, with restricted timings. Rohatgi claimed traders had invested huge amounts of money after licences were issued to them and the last-minute ban would cause massive losses.