Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Editorial, "RULE BY JUDICIAL FIAT: DIWALI FIREWORKS BAN", in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 15 October 2017, Vol. 13, Pt. 2, No. 19 issue

In November 2016 the Supreme Court, in consideration of the request made in a PIL for total ban on Diwali fireworks sales and celebrations, passed a detailed interim order too quickly and not underscoring the fact that Diwali comes but once in a year with at most 2-3 days of celebrations and already several anti-pollution measures were operative in this regard. Later, in a well-balanced judgment, carefully assessing the aftermath of the earlier order, a 2-Judge bench of the Court, in its 12 September 2017 judgment (the 3 orders reported in this issue), modified the earlier order to enable sales of fireworks and celebrations almost as usual this Diwali  clearly observing: “68. …continuing the suspension of licences might be too radical a step to take for the present – a graded and balanced approach is necessary that will reduce and gradually eliminate air pollution in Delhi and in the NCR caused by the bursting of fireworks. At the same time it is necessary to ensure that injustice is not caused to those who have already been granted a valid permanent license to possess and sell fireworks ...” “69. …from the material before us, it cannot be said with any great degree of certainty that the extremely poor quality of air in Delhi in November and December 2016 was the result only of bursting fireworks around Diwali. Consequently, a complete ban on the sale of fireworks would be an extreme step that might not be fully warranted by the facts available to us.” – and the earlier directions were to be strictly implemented from 1 November, with the results properly assessed in course for final disposal of the matters. But within a month, another 3-Judges Bench reviews and reverses this interim order for no satisfactory reasons and no additional data or material from any source – making it a test-ban for this year! And, many a scare-environmentalist also rush to defend these SC orders as if the Diwali fireworks alone are causing all pollution but in reality Diwali pollution is not even 1% of annual pollution; motor vehicles, chemicals and other industrial effluents, pesticides, all sorts of wastes, etc. are the major causes. The Court’s revising order has hurt the sentiments and interests of millions of people and some of the graphics above are but indications of the pent up popular anger and discontent. If the Court cannot stand on its own considered judgment for even one month, where is legal certainty in this country? One would not be surprised if such judicial overreach should lead to disastrous consequences. The only antidote is for people in their lakhs to come out, demonstrate and agitate in protest against such developments too as rule by judicial fiat is also no good, and what is to be achieved is real participatory democratic governance.  §§§

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