Why firecracker manufacturers have been served a showcause notice by the Supreme Court

The Court noted that the preliminary report submitted by the Joint Director, CBI suggested that firecracker manufacturers were still using barium nitrate and other barium salts in fireworks.
Supreme court of India, Firecrackers
Supreme court of India, Firecrackers

The Supreme Court today issued show cause notices to the top six firecracker manufacturers in the country, calling for an explanation as to why they should not be charged for contempt of court for violating past orders which had banned the use of barium salts in fireworks (Arjun Gopal v. Union of India).

The Bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna was hearing an application seeking the regulation of firecrackers as well as a ban on the manufacture of firecrackers containing harmful chemicals such as barium nitrate.

The top court today noted that the preliminary report submitted by the Joint Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Chennai suggested that firecracker manufacturers were still using barium nitrate and other barium salts in fireworks. They were also not disclosing the correct ingredients on the labels of the product, the report stated.

"There has been a flagrant violation by the manufacturers with respect to the earlier orders passed by this Court. From the report submitted by the Joint Director, CBI, Chennai, it prima facie appears that there has been a violation of the Court's earlier orders with respect to use of barium/barium salts as well as orders passed by this Court with respect to labelling of fireworks. Manufacturing companies are directed to show cause as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for violation of the earlier orders of the Court," reads the order passed today.

The Court today allowed the manufacturers to peruse the CBI report and file a counter to the same. The case will now be heard on October 6, 2021.

"One more opportunity is being given to the manufacturers to put forward their case with respect to the report of the Joint Director, CBI, Chennai. A copy of the preliminary inquiry report of the CBI is directed to be served to all the concerned counsels by tomorrow. It will be open for concerned manufacturers against whom allegations are made to file a counter affidavit. A copy of the same has to be served to ASG Aishwarya Bhati and Sr. Adv Sankaranaryanan," reads the order.

The Bench further said that it even if it issues orders to only use green crackers, these would be "only banners" and that barium salts would continue to be used.

"Only those suffering from asthma can feel this. We have to take a balanced view looking at the country because everyday there is a celebration. But we have to see other factors also and we cannot allow them to suffer and die," the Court noted.

When Senior Advocate Kiran Suri asked the Court to hear the manufacturers, the Bench remarked,

"Yes we will hear you, before sending you to jail."

Senior Advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan represented the petitioners, whereas Senior Advocate Atmaram Nadkarni, who was appearing for the Centre when the CBI inquiry was ordered last year, now represented the manufacturers.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appeared for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

[Read Order]

Arjun Gopal v. Union of India.pdf

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