National Green Tribunal’s Order for Complete Ban
On 2nd December 2020, the National Green Tribunal imposed a complete ban on sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers during Covid-19 pandemic in the NCR and all cities in the country where the air quality is ascertained to fall within the purview of ‘poor and above category.’ The National Green Tribunal was of the opinion that the use of firecrackers would only aggravate the effects of the ongoing pandemic and that the pollution would further damage public health. The National Green Tribunal also stated that “nobody has a right to carry on business at the cost of health of others.”
Thereafter, appeals were filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal.
Argument before Supreme Court
Senior Advocate P.S. Narasimha contended that the National Green Tribunal had deviated from the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of Arjun Gopal v. Union of India (2018) in which the Court had ruled against a complete ban on firecrackers and had permitted the sale of green crackers. This position was taken by the Supreme Court to ensure a balanced approach in preventing and controlling air pollution. Advocate J. Sai Deepak appearing on behalf of a retailer also submitted that the National Green Tribunal’s order was against the stand that was taken by the Supreme Court in the case of Arjun Gopal (2018). Advocate J. Sai Deepak also stated fire crackers were not included in the report enumerating the top 15 factors contributing to air pollution which was prepared by IIT Kanpur.
Supreme Court’s Observation
The bench constituted by Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna rejected the contentions and observed that the order of the National Green Tribunal was not a blanket ban and that it was reasonable. In response to advocate J. Sai Deepak’s contention that firecracker was not listed by IIT Kanpur’s report, the Court replied, “Do we need IIT o to understand the impact of firecrackers on your lungs? This is common knowledge.”
Supreme Court upholds NGT’s Order on Complete Ban
The Hon’ble Supreme Court rejected the appeals and upheld the order of the National Green Tribunal banning the sale and use of firecrackers in areas with Air Quality Index (AQI). Additionally, the Court stated that the sale and use of firecrackers would be permitted when the AQI improves.