CASE TITLE: Goutam Roy v. State of West Bengal
The Supreme Court will hear an appeal against a recent judgment of the Calcutta High Court prohibiting the use of firecrackers during the upcoming festivals of Kali Puja, Diwali, Chatt Puja, Jagadhatri Puja, Guru Nanak’s Birthday, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve in West Bengal.
At 11 a.m., a special vacation bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi will hear the case.
The Supreme Court is currently closed for the holiday season of Diwali.
The order was issued by the Calcutta High Court in light of the state’s COVID outbreak and poor air quality.
The High Court had ordered that only wax or oil-based diyas be used.
“During the upcoming Kali Puja and Diwali celebrations, as well as the following Chatt Puja, Jagadhatri Puja, Guru Nanak’s Birthday, and/or Christmas/New Year’s Eve this year, the State should ensure that no firecrackers of any kind are used, displayed, or exploded. Only wax or oil-based diyas should be used for this purpose “According to the instruction.
A bench of Justices Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya and Aniruddha Roy also ordered the police to keep a close eye on the festivities and ensure that no firecrackers are sold, bought, or used. Furthermore, any firecrackers of any kind that have the potential to contaminate the air were to be confiscated by the police.
Before issuing the order, the Bench made it clear that the term “firecrackers” include all forms of sparklers, as well as other similar materials, whether or not the bursting/burning produces any sound or light.
The petitioner in the High Court, Roshni Ali, argued that bursting firecrackers would jeopardize Indian residents’ right to life, especially in view of the rising pandemic. An prior order of the Court’s coordination bench prohibiting the use of all firecrackers and authorizing only the use of wax or oil-based diyas was cited.
It was also argued that the larger interests of citizens must be prioritized over the smaller interests of firecracker manufacturers and others involved in the industry.
The state of West Bengal, on the other hand, had argued against a blanket prohibition, citing judgments from the National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court that allowed for limited usage of “green crackers.”
The intervenors, a group of firecracker producers, made a similar argument, claiming that if permission for the use of such green crackers is not extended, manufacturers will suffer.
The Division Bench, on the other hand, had rejected this submission due to “practical realities.” It was discovered that there was no mechanism in place to detect green crackers, making law enforcement agents’ job impossible.