Calcutta High Court bans use and sale of firecrackers in Bengal
Calcutta High Court on Thursday asked the Bengal government to “ensure that there is no use or display or bursting of firecrackers at all during Kali Puja and Diwali celebrations” and other upcoming occasions.
“This direction as to firecrackers will be effective all over the state and will cover not only the Kali Puja and Diwali celebrations but also Chhath Puja, Jagaddhatri Puja and Guru Nanak’s birthday celebrations thereafter,” the division bench of Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee said.
“Wax or oil-based diyas would have to suffice for the greater good of the citizens and in the larger public interest,” the court order added.
The court lauded the efforts by the government and police to ensure a less crowded Durga Puja.
The word “firecrackers” in Thursday’s order includes “all types of sparklers and the like, whether or not the use or burning thereof involves any sound or light being generated”.
The court has ordered police to maintain “strict vigil to ensure that there is no sale or purchase of firecrackers of any form in the state between now and the end of the month. The police should make every effort to confiscate firecrackers and any kind of like material which have the potential to pollute the air”.
Any violation of the order should be dealt with through “immediate” and appropriate measures, the court said. The state “will ensure that no firecrackers of any kind are brought into the state, except for immediate transit to another state”.
The bench issued a slew of directives for Kali Puja and Jagaddhatri Puja organisers. “All pandals will continue to be no-entry zones” as with the Durga Puja but the barricaded area outside has been reduced.
The state government had advised people to lay off crackers this Diwali and Kali Puja.
The court said: “It is evident that there has been an endeavour on the part of the state to protect the air quality so that the respiratory problems that arise as a result of the infection are not aggravated because of the noxious fumes brought about by the use of firecrackers.”
Complimenting the government and the police, the court said: “For a start, the state government and the state police need to be commended for the admirable conduct of the Durga Puja, despite the late directions issued by the court. By and large – there were some ugly exceptions – the Durga Puja celebrations all over the state, including in the city, were in accordance with the directions issued by the court, and both the police and the administration made serious attempts to ensure that the Covid protocol was maintained and hygiene was not compromised. Indeed, the usual crowding at Puja pandals during the Durga Puja was, more or less, absent.”
The court said “it will be for the state to consider whether appropriate compensation or other measures can be taken” for cracker manufacturers. “For the greater good, a small number of persons involved in the firecracker business may have to suffer losses. The overwhelming public interest cannot be compromised,” the order said.
The day’s directive followed a PIL by Ajay Kumar De seeking a court order on maintaining the pandemic protocol during the upcoming festivals.