After Delhi, Maharashtra too may consider a ban on firecrackers
After the SC upheld the ban on selling firecrackers in Delhi-NCR region till November 1, Maharashtra's environment minister Ramdas Kadam hinted that he might talk to CM Devendra Fadnavis if a similar ban can be proposed in Maharashtra. The SC's suspension will last till 12 days after Diwali to check if it has a "positive effect" on Delhi's already deteriorating air quality. Know more!
In 2016, Delhi's air pollution levels were categorized as "severe" with the particulate matter being 29 times above WHO standards. This prompted the SC to suspend the "permit sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR" through a November'16 order. However, on 12 September'17, the SC temporarily lifted the ban permitting the sale of firecrackers.
A Justice AK Sikri-headed bench said the 2016 order suspending licenses "should be given one chance to test itself" to check if it affects Delhi/NCR pollution levels positively. Thus, the 12 September order lifting the ban would be effective only from November 1, which means the temporary licenses given by the police for sale of firecrackers since then will no longer be valid.
After the latest SC order, the Confederation of All India (CAIT) asked the government to file a review petition as the firecrackers business is a legitimate activity under the Constitution's Right to Work. Further, as the order does not specify anything about bursting crackers, individuals could buy crackers from other states or those who have hoarded crackers could burst them rendering the order pointless.
Additionally, some noted personalities condemned the order. Tripura governor Tathagata Roy expressed his discontent by tweeting "First Dahi Handi, today (Tuesday) sale of firecrackers, tomorrow, in the name pollution, the candlelight march and Award wapsi brigade will file a petition against Hindus cremating dead bodies." Author Chetan Bhagat also criticized the verdict questioning why SC does not curb bloodshed on Eid and Muharram.
However, the SC found an unlikely ally in Maharashtra environment minister and Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam who said "Celebrations should be cracker-free." He asserted that he would talk to CM Fadnavis about a similar ban in Maharashtra to celebrate a "pollution-free" Diwali.
Meanwhile, a debate arose whether this was a case of judicial overreach. However, the SC didn't enforce a complete ban, which is an administrative prerogative, but only sought to promote the right to life by ensuring a cleaner environment. Now, it remains to be seen if this order has a positive effect in Delhi.