Kochi: A division bench of the Kerala High Court has partially set aside the interim order of the single bench banning the bursting of firecrackers at places of worship at odd hours. The single bench directive to conduct inspections at places of worship in all districts and seize illegally stored firecrackers has also been quashed.
The division bench clarified that the Supreme Court has already imposed a ban on bursting firecrackers between 10 pm and 6 am.
The bench comprising Justice AJ Desai and Justice VG Arun stated that though the ban on bursting firecrackers at odd hours will remain in place, the government can grant permission for fireworks after considering the place of worship. The District Administration could take a call on the bursting of crackers during odd hours on a case-to-case basis. This implies that there will be no restriction in conducting fireworks at Thrissur Pooram if the district administration allows it. The appeal filed by the government against the single bench order was being considered.
In the present appeal, the State averred that the direction issued to the District Collectors to conduct raids is an omnibus direction which is not warranted by factual or legal circumstances. It added that the expression 'odd time' could also be interpreted according to individual perspectives.
The State submitted that there are several religious festivals in the State wherein display of fireworks is an essential part of religions, which have been carried out since time immemmorial.
It also averred that the decision of the Single Judge overlooks many binding precedents such as Forum, Prevention of Environmental and Sound Pollution vs Union of India & Anr., wherein the apex court had ordered a complete ban on bursting sound-emitting crackers between 10 pm and 6 am, and proceeded to hold that it was not necessary to impose restrictions on bursting of light-emitting crackers. The said decision had also highlighted that restrictions imposed could be relaxed during festivals and ceremonies where large number of people gather, subject to the directions in the judgment, and those issued by the appropriate authorities.
Following the said decision, the apex court had also permitted the bursting of firecrackers during the conduct of Thrissur Pooram, finding the same to be an integral part of the celebration of the festival.
Single bench order
The high court single bench order came on a petition filed on December 19, 2014, by six people, all natives of Maradu in Ernakulam district. The petitioners wanted the high court to ban the fireworks conducted at the Marattil Kottaram Bhagavathy Temple every year as part of the Thalappoli festival there. The petitioners, who reside near the temple, said their families including children were grossly affected by the adverse consequences of the fireworks.
The division bench also pointed out that the singhle bench considered matters beyond the scope of the petition surrounding the Marattil Kottaram Bhagavathy Temple. The High Court division also directed the opposing parties to file affidavits before the single bench.
(With LiveLaw inputs.)