The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the CBI report on use of toxic chemicals in manufacturing firecrackers is very serious and “prima facie” it appears that there has been violation of the court”s orders on use of barium and labelling of fireworks.
A bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna said the CBI has found harmful chemicals such as barium salts in the seized items.
The Supreme Court noted that manufacturers such as Hindustan Fireworks and Standard Fireworks purchased barium in huge quantities and used these chemicals in the fireworks.
“The CBI report states that various samples of firecrackers and raw materials were collected from manufacturing factories which were sent for chemical analysis. It has been found that in many firecrackers barium and barium salts have been found.”
“It has also been found that a huge quantity of barium/barium salts has been bought by manufacturers despite the ban imposed on the chemical in 2019. It has also been found that labels of finished crackers have revealed they did not contain the chemical composition and year of manufacture,” the bench said.
The top court had noted on March 3 last year that Standard Fireworks, Hindustan Fireworks, Vinayaga Fireworks Industries, Shree Mariamman Fireworks, Shree Suryakalaa Fireworks and Selva Vinayagar Fireworks were directed to show cause why they not be punished for contempt for violation of earlier orders for using the banned chemicals.
“Considering the report submitted by CBI, prima facie it appears that they violated this court and earlier orders on barium salts and orders on labelling of firecrackers,” the bench said.
However, it added that “to give one further opportunity to the manufacturers to put forward their case and give them a report of CBI… We direct the Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati to furnish a copy of enquiry report to respective counsels appearing for manufacturers by tomorrow. The copy of the report be also furnished to the counsel for the petitioner. Put up on October 6.”
The bench said it will be open for concerned manufacturers against whom allegations are made to file a counter affidavit and granted one more opportunity to the manufacturers to put forward their case with respect to the report of the Joint Director, CBI, Chennai.
It also issued notices to the manufacturers of the firecrackers in the case.
The top court said that everyday there is some celebration in this country. But we have to consider other aspects too. We cannot let people suffer and die. There are people suffering from asthma and other diseases.. children are also suffering.
The matter is listed for next hearing on October 6. The Supreme Court had on March 3, 2020 directed the Joint Director, CBI at Chennai to make a detailed investigation and submit report in six weeks regarding the alleged violation of this Court”s earlier orders by the manufacturers by using the ingredients which have been banned and by mislabelling their products contrary to the directions of this court.
It had taken a stern view of the issue when senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan stated that these manufacturers were openly flouting the court”s order. The Supreme Court had ordered six manufacturers to show cause why they should not be punished for contempt of its orders.
At the hearing commenced, the court after perusing a report filed by the CBI said that the agency has found that in many seized items, harmful chemicals have been found such as barium salts.
The court said it will record adverse findings against such manufacturers and also cancel their license.
“Why should FIRs not be registered against the manufacturers? Why should they not be punished?” the court asked the firecracker manufacturers.
Senior advocate Kiran Suri, appearing for one of the manufacturing companies, said, “I do not have access to the CBI inquiry report. I can only proceed on the basis of the application filed.”
Bench: We will record adverse findings against such manufacturers and also cancel their license.
The preliminary copy of the report should be given to the manufacturers.
Senior advocate Atmaram Nadkarni, appearing for manufacturers” association of firecrackers, said the findings are in the nature of a report by an advocate commissioner and a copy of the report should be given to the manufacturers.
The ASG also agreed that there should be no difficulty in giving copies of the report to the manufacturers.
“This report will clarify violations under the explosives act where action can be taken under PESO, and it can be given since it is submitted to you. So we have no apprehension that the report can be given to the manufacturers,” she said.
At the fag end of hearing, the ASG said there are two aspects to this matter – violations of court orders and the way forward.
“After a lot of research these reports are prepared. In the earlier hearing before a separate bench, the court asked what could be the mechanism in place so that there is compliance and proper monitoring. Now there is question on a mechanism to develop so that these orders are implemented? I was seeking to place an affidavit in this regard,” Bhati said.
The bench however, took exception and said: “What is the anxiety by the MoEF? Today if we say green crackers only, banners will be there and only barium will be used. This is not a fresh matter before us. We have to consider earlier orders.
“You know the problems only for those people who are suffering from asthma and other diseases. Even the children are suffering. Still we want 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 other persons to suffer and die”.