by Elton Gomes
Modifying its earlier order, wherein a time slot between 8 to 10 pm was fixed for bursting firecrackers on Diwali, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed all Indian states to decide their own time slots to burn firecrackers. However, the time slot cannot exceed the two-hour limit which was set earlier.
Appearing for Tamil Nadu, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade initially requested that two hours be assigned both in the morning as well as in the evening. However, the apex court bench comprising Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan declined this.
“That is not possible. Total duration should not exceed more than two hours in a day,” the bench said, adding that Tamil Nadu was free to “stagger it (in the morning and evening),” if it wanted, as per an Indian Express report.
The counsel then sought a reduced time slot of 90 minutes in the morning and evening, but the court refused this as well.
What changes has the SC made
The Supreme Court bench has allowed local variations but has not extended the time to burst crackers. The court has rejected several petitions seeking a blanket ban on production and sale of high-emission polluting crackers only for this year in the NCR region.
The ban on making polluting crackers is likely to stay and only green crackers could be made from next year. The bench ruled its previous verdict at a short notice wherein it ordered the switch from more polluting to less polluting crackers. and it has now made a relaxation on sale of less polluting crackers.
Use of green crackers meant only for Delhi
The Supreme Court bench also observed that the direction for permitting the use of green crackers was meant for the Delhi-NCR region only and was not to be followed throughout India. However, the counsel appearing for firecracker manufacturers told the court that it would not be possible to make green firecrackers since there was no set composition for manufacturing them.
Why did the SC make modifications
The Supreme Court modified its verdict after the Tamil Nadu government on Monday sought to permit the bursting of firecrackers from 4.30 am to 6.30 am during the festival of Deepavali.
The Tamil Nadu government noted that north India celebrates Diwali on the night of November 7, whereas Tamil Nadu celebrates Deepavali on the morning of November 6.
“India being a Federal State is with different traditions and cultures. As far as celebrations relating to Diwali are concerned, each State or Sect has a separate set of beliefs, traditions and culture,” Tamil Nadu, represented by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade and advocate B. Vinodh Kanna, argued, the Hindu reported.
Justice Sikri said that the court assigned the uniform time of 8 to 10 pm for all faiths so that no accusatory finger is pointed at it. “We thought there should not be any allegation against us, that we are only making direction as far as one particular religion is concerned,” Justice Sikri explained, as per the Hindu report.
Tamil Nadu govt to consult all stakeholders
Recent reports mentioned that the Tamil Nadu government will be consulting all stakeholders regarding the Supreme Court’s decision of allowing the state to choose its own two-hour slot for bursting firecrackers on Diwali.
“The order has come just now. The government will decide accordingly after consulting all (stakeholders),” Chief Minister K. Palaniswami told the press in Madurai.
Senior police officials told PTI that the modalities would be decided shortly. However, they did not clearly mention the ways in which the order would be carried out.
Chennai-based environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman welcomed the Supreme Court’s order, but said that enforcement and awareness remain key aspects. “I do not know how it is going to be enforced. Also, its success will depend on the kind of awareness that the state is going to take up,” Jayaraman told PTI.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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