SC sets aside Calcutta High Court’s order on firecrackers


On Monday, 1st November 2021, the Supreme Court of the country set aside the Calcutta High Court order. This order imposed a ban on the sale and use of all firecrackers in the state.

What did the High Court do?

On the 29th of October this year, the Calcutta high court was not very sure that there was any mechanism to make sure that only green crackers would be sold. Therefore, it went on to ban even the green firecrackers. This happened on the verge of the beginning of the festive season including Kali puja, Diwali, Chatt puja, Jagadhatri Puja, Guru Nanak’s birthday. This festive season will finally be completed at the end of the year with Christmas and New Year celebrations.

What did the associations plead with the Supreme Court regarding the HC’s orders?

The high court verdict came on the same day the Supreme Court ordered the states and the union territories to observe its order. The order was prohibiting the sale of banned firecrackers but it was no blanket ban. This was because green crackers could be used in the festival. As soon as the order was passed, 2 fireworks dealers’ associations rushed to the Supreme Court against the high court ban. They pleaded that their stocks of firecrackers had already come in from Tamil Nadu’s Sivakasi. They said that the last-minute ban would cause them a huge loss. This would also jeopardize their business ahead of the festive season. The names of the 2 associations were: Burrabazaar Fireworks Dealers’ Association and Siliguri Fireworks Dealers Association.

What did their advocates say?

The dealers represented by senior advocates Siddharth Bhatnagar and Malvika Trivedi recalled the top court’s decision on Friday. They clearly laid down the fact that there is no complete ban on firecrackers. Along with that, it had permitted the use of green light crackers. This was because these crackers emitted harmful gases at a reduced rate. The bench agreed. “All states are following the order passed by this court. How can West Bengal be an exception? Our order has to be consistent in all areas unless as a matter of policy, any state decides to impose a ban (on sale or use of firecrackers),” it said.

Was the special hearing about the High Court’s orders on banning firecrackers?

When the West Bengal high court brought about this changed and imposed a ban on crackers, the bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi observed a special sitting. This was done to hear the case as all the courts had closed for the Diwali vacation. They said, “We are convinced that if the high court wanted to impose a complete ban, it should have asked the authorities to offer an explanation requiring such an extreme order and departing from the order passed by this court on October 29.” Senior advocate Anand Grover was appearing for the government of West Bengal. He told the court that the state government was also taken by surprise by the high court’s order. “The order came as a bolt from the blue as the high court never discussed it when the PIL was heard and suddenly made it part of the order,” Grover said.

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