Cracker Ban Or­der: SC Laments Com­mu­nal Twist, Re­fuses Re­lief

Court says ban an ex­per­i­ment to gauge air qual­ity; sales can re­sume from Nov 1

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Sa­man­waya.Rau­tray @times­group.com

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.

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