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Posted at: Oct 13, 2017, 3:15 PM; last updated: Oct 13, 2017, 3:15 PM (IST)

Supreme Court refuses to modify its cracker sale ban order

Supreme Court refuses to modify its cracker sale ban order
A Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri said it had not stopped people from celebrating the Festival of Lights.

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to modify its order banning sale of crackers in Delhi-NCR and expressed anguish over attempts giving its order a communal angle.

A Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri said it had not stopped people from celebrating the Festival of Lights which falls on October 19.

“It’s just an experiment for one year. Thereafter we will take stock of it,” said the Bench.

“I am a very spiritual person but this is something different,” said Justice AK Sikri expressing anguish over attempts to give the order a communal angle.

A group of traders and a Chennai-based NGO--Indic Collective--had moved the top court seeking modification of its order banning sale of crackers in Delhi-NCR till October 31.

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While the traders said the ban order was likely to cause huge losses to them, the Chennai-based NGO requested it to reconsider the decision on the grounds that religious and cultural aspects of the issue were not considered.

Concerned over the poor quality of air, the Supreme Court on October 9 revived the ban on sale of firecrackers in the Delhi-NCR region during Diwali.

The court had said the ban would be lifted from November 1 in terms of its September 12 order.

In its plea, Indic Collective had submitted that Diwali had religious and cultural significance to Hindus of the Sanathan Dharma variant, Hindus of the Arya Samaj variant, Sikhs and Jains.

“The festival is celebrated in the north and south of India based on different traditions, while retaining certain commonalities such as lighting of lamps, chanting of prayers, exchange of gifts and bursting of firecrackers.

“While in the north, the festival marks the celebration of the return of Lord Ram, in the south it is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura. Regardless of whether these beliefs and traditions pass muster on the anvils of modern secular rationalism, these are nevertheless cherished beliefs and traditions which have been practised for centuries. Consequently, they form part of the religious and cultural rights of Indic communities under Article 25 (right to religion),” the NGO submitted.

“There are murals older than 700 years in the temples of Tamil Nadu which depict the celebration of Diwali with fireworks. Recorded history also shows that the bursting of firecrackers was prevalent in Delhi even during the reign of Aurangazeb as evidenced by a fiat issued by him in 1667 banning the display of fireworks on Diwali. This shows that at the very least, Delhi has a tradition of bursting firecrackers in celebration of Diwali which goes back to 350 years,” the petitioners contended.

“In view of this long tradition, it is evident that regardless of whether the bursting of firecrackers is prescribed by Hindu scriptures, the festival has acquired a life of its own and the bursting of firecrackers has indeed become integral to the celebration of Diwali in the popular psyche. Another example on similar lines would be the introduction of the public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi which is popularly attributed to Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. These aspects ought to have been placed before this Hon’ble Court before the order was passed,” it said.

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