Supreme Court notice to cracker makers over report on use of banned chemicals

A bench of Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna said that from a report submitted by the Joint Director of CBI, Chennai, it prima facie appears that there has been a violation of the court's earlier orders, issuing a ban on use of barium/barium salts, as well as orders regarding labelling of firecrackers.

With Diwali, the festival of lights, just about a month away, the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to firecracker manufacturers to show cause why they should not be charged with contempt of court and their licences cancelled for allegedly using chemicals banned by the court in the manufacturing process.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna said that from a report submitted by the Joint Director of CBI, Chennai, it prima facie appears that there has been a violation of the court’s earlier orders, issuing a ban on use of barium/barium salts, as well as orders regarding labelling of firecrackers.

The bench directed that a copy of the report be given to the manufacturers so that they can put forth their case and respond to the CBI’s findings.

Hearing a plea by a student, Arjun Gopal, the court, by its order on October 23, 2018, had banned use of barium salts in making of firecrackers and had favoured green crackers.

Considering a fresh plea, also by the student, alleging violation of the court’s earlier order prohibiting use of certain chemicals in crackers, the bench had on March 3, 2020 asked the CBI’s Chennai unit to look into the charges.

Taking it up on Wednesday, the bench observed, “We have to take a balanced view looking at the country, because every day there is some celebration in this country. But we have to consider other aspects too. We cannot let people suffer and die. There are people suffering from asthma and other diseases. Children are also suffering.”

Perusing the preliminary report submitted by the agency, Justice Shah remarked that it shows a large quantity of barium was purchased by some of the manufacturers last year. “If it is banned, how it was purchased? This is very serious,” the court said.

The bench said the CBI had drawn up the report relying on chemical analysis reports by government laboratories.

The report, the court observed, had also found that labels of finished fireworks collected from the factories did not contain chemical composition of fireworks and the date of manufacturing. This was in violation of the Explosive Rules, 2008, and the court’s orders, it said. The bench wondered why FIRs should not be registered against the manufacturers.

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