The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to impose a nationwide ban on sale and use of firecrackers. In its verdict today, the court said only 'green firecrackers' (which are less polluting) will be allowed to be sold.
"Only between 8 pm to 10 pm time period people can burst firecrackers on Diwali," the court said.
A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan also restrained e-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon from selling firecrackers which were beyond the permissible limit.
The apex court's order came on a plea seeking a ban on the manufacture and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.
The bench also said that e-commerce websites will be hauled up for contempt of court if they don't adhere to the court's direction.
"Firecrackers with permissible decibel sound limits will only be allowed to be sold in the market," the bench said.
It also asked the Centre to encourage community cracker bursting during Diwali and other festivals in Delhi-NCR and directed all states to explore the feasibility of community cracker bursting during festivals.
The apex court had earlier said there is a need to take into account all aspects, including the fundamental right of livelihood of firecracker manufacturers and the right to health of over 1.3 billion people in the country, while considering a plea for the ban.
The top court had said Article 21 (right to life) of Constitution applies to both segments of people and it needs to maintain a balance while considering a countrywide ban on firecrackers.
It had asked Centre to suggest measures to be taken for curbing the pollution and what will be the effect of firecrackers on the public at large.
The apex court had on August 8 said a spike in PM 2.5 levels in the air is a severe problem as the particulate matter remains in people's lungs, leading to serious health implications.
Firecrackers manufacturers earlier told the court that use of firecrackers should not be completely banned and it should instead be strictly regulated.
They have contended that the crackers are not the reason for increase in air pollution and there are other factors, like wind and temperature, which contribute to it.
They have said the firecracker manufacturers can be deprived of their right to do business based on statements which were not supported by facts.
On October 9 last year, the top court temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali.
Later, the court refused to relax its order while dismissing a plea by traders who had sought permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali on October 19, 2017.
The apex court said its ban order during Diwali that year was an experiment to examine its effect on the pollution levels in the region.