The Supreme Court has banned the sale of firecrackers in the Delhi NCR region to test whether the temporary curb will bring down the national capital's alarming air pollution levels that shoot up every year especially after Diwali.
The decision has understandably ruffled many feathers. Those against the ban took to social media to allege that the decision targetted Hindus. They pointed out the "unfairness" of allowing animal slaughter in Eid while stopping Hindus from bursting crackers, a custom associated with the festival. Notably, Diwali, called the festival of lights, is celebrated among all communities in India.
But none of this stopped the spokesperson of Delhi BJP, Tajinder Bagga, from using the wording of the SC order to find a way to make his stand about firecrackers known.
Bagga shared a video of him distributing firecrackers to children in Delhi's Hari Nagar:
While the Supreme Court held that burning firecrackers would only make the pollution worse, it only banned its sale. Bursting firecrackers is still allowed. The order stated that the ban on the sale of firecrackers is to see if air pollution can be controlled. But many have taken it as an attack on people's rights to celebrate their festival.
And the defiant BJP has used this to make a point.
Live Law quoted the Supreme Court order as saying:
We are of the view that the order suspending the licences should be given one chance to test itself in order to find out as to whether there would be positive effect of this suspension, particularly during Diwali period. Insofar as adverse effects of burning of crackers during Diwali are concerned, those have been witnessed year after year. The air quality deteriorates abysmally and alarmingly and the city chokes thereby. It leads to closing the schools and the authorities are compelled to take various measures on emergent basis, when faced with "health emergency" situation.
This very situation had occurred on the very next morning after Diwali in the year 2016. It resulted in passing the order dated November 11, 2016. This order prevailed during the year but the impact and effect of this order remains to be tested on Diwali days. Going by these considerations, we are of the opinion that the judgment dated dated September 12, 2017 passed by this Court should be made effective only from November 01, 2017. To put it clearly, though we are not tweaking with the various directions contained in the Orders dated September 12, 2017, the effect of that Order would not be given during this Diwali and, therefore, we are making it effective only from November 01, 2017. We are conscious of the fact that after the said order was passed, the police may have issued temporary licences. Accordingly, those aresuspended forthwith so that there is no further sale of the crackers in Delhi and NCR. Further orders in this behalf can be passed on assessing the situation that would emerge after this Diwali season.
Bagga justified his actions by telling India Today, "I purchased these firecrackers from outside Delhi and I have distributed them."
Bagga argued that only Hindu festivals were being targeted. He was not the only person who protested the SC order.
Fourteen members of the Azad Hind Fauj were arrested after they burst crackers in front of the apex court.
Last year, the particulate matter levels had increased dangerously, putting all citizens at risk.
The Guardian had reported that while World Health Organization recommends that PM2.5 is kept below 10 as an annual average, last year on the day after Diwali, it had gone upto 1,238. This was in comparison to 435 in 2015.