After the CBI's preliminary report indicted six leading firecracker units for violating the top court's order on use of barium and its salts, the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued show-cause notice to manufacturers, and sought an explanation why contempt proceedings should be not initiated against them, and why their licenses not be cancelled.
A bench comprising Justices M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna noted the CBI's report on use of toxic chemicals in manufacturing of firecrackers is very serious and there is also "prima facie" violation of the court's orders on use of barium and labelling of fireworks.
"Why cannot these companies be punished and why their licenses cannot be cancelled? They have purchased banned substance from market to manufacture crackers," the bench said, emphasising that the report has been received from government labs, therefore it is reliable.
The bench also noted that the CBI's preliminary enquiry report has come out with a finding that banned harmful chemicals have been used by manufacturers in several crackers. The report claimed that firecracker manufacturers were also not disclosing the correct ingredients on the labels of the product.
Pointing at the air pollution caused by bursting of firecrackers, the top court observed that it has to take balanced view looking at the country, as every day, there is a celebration. It further added that the court cannot allow people to suffer and die due to air pollution.
"Only those suffering from asthma can feel this.. We have to take a balanced view looking at the country because every day there is a celebration..but we have to see other factors also and we cannot allow them to suffer and die," it said.
The bench observed, if it were to issue orders for only green crackers, it may end up flouted, and the manufacturers may continue to use banned chemicals.
The top court allowed the firecracker manufacturers to peruse the CBI report and file a counter on it, and scheduled the matter for further hearing on October 6.
When counsel representing a firecracker manufacturer asked the court to hear her client, the bench remarked: "Yes, we will hear you, before sending you to jail."
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appeared for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
The report of the Joint Director, CBI, Chennai on Standard Fireworks said: "Chemical analysis revealed that 11 finished firecrackers and one sample of raw material contained barium salt, out of which four finished firecrackers which tested positive for barium were manufactured in the year 2020, i.e. after the ban on barium salt was imposed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India vide its order dated October 23, 2018. Remaining seven samples of finished fire crackers were collected in loose form, hence the date of manufacturing and the details of the chemical composition were not known."