The Supreme Court on Tuesday articulated concerns over rising unemployment in the country when it said that it wasn’t in favour of a complete ban on crackers and instead suggested regulating the polluting aspect of the industry. The cracker-making units of Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, have stayed shut since October, 2018, when the court ordered that a switch is needed from manufacturing air polluting crackers to green crackers. Since then, there has been no unanimity on what can be called green crackers. A bench led by Justice AK Sikri had then directed that only green crackers be used and sold throughout the country. Justice Sikri had since demitted office. The overnight switch resulted in a virtual shutdown of the flourishing industry in the state.
Now the case is being heard by another bench led by Justice SA Bobde, the next in line to be the Chief Justice of India after CJI Ranjan Gogoi demits office in October. Justice Bobde’s observations on the lack of employment prospects in the country came during the hearing. “We cannot give them jobs, food. Why should we take away what they have?” he asked, suggesting a major rethink in the court’s approach to the problem. Instead, he called for regulating the polluting aspects of the problem. In this context, he wondered whether air crackers were a bigger problem than vehicular pollution.
Justice Bobde also pointed out that crackers held a special place in India unlike in other countries which haven’t banned crackers. Other alternatives could be exploredtodealwithcracker-related pollution such as communal bursting of crackers, etc., he suggested. “We do not wish to generate unemployment. Is there any comparative study on what proportion of pollution is caused by firecrackers and what proportion is caused by automobiles?” he asked. “It seems you are running after firecrackers, but the bigger pollution contributor is perhaps vehicles,” the bench told Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni who was appearing for the Centre.