The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with a Calcutta High Court order banning the sale and bursting of firecrackers during the festive season, saying the “preservation of life was more important amid the coronavirus.”
“We are all battling for life in this situation and all of us have elderly people in our home,” the Supreme Court observed. “We are in a situation where, at this time, preservation of life is more important and the high court knows what is required at the ground level,” it said while hearing an appeal filed by one Gautam Roy and the Burrabazaar Fireworks Dealers Association against the high court order.
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Last week, the Calcutta High Court had banned the sale and bursting of firecrackers in Kolkata during Kali Puja to curb pollution amid concerns that worsening air quality during the COVID-19 pandemic could affect the health of the general populace. “It will be for the state to consider whether appropriate compensation or other measures can be taken. For the greater good, a small number of persons involved in the firecrackers business may have to suffer losses. The overwhelming public interest cannot be compromised,” it had said.
The high court had directed that the ban would be in force during Jagaddhatri Puja, Chhath, and Kartik Puja also. It said the guidelines that were in place during Durga Puja, such as restricted entry into pandals, should be followed during the other festivals also.
The Supreme Court said the HC had taken into consideration the interest of citizens, particularly senior citizens, who may have comorbidities. It commended the state government for implementing the court-directed guidelines during Durga Puja and asked the police to ensure that the norms are strictly enforced for other festivals as well.
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Several states, including Delhi, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Haryana, have banned firecrackers to curb air pollution.