Modifying its October 23 order fixing a slot of 8 pm to 10 pm for bursting firecrackers on Diwali, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that Tamil Nadu and other southern states will be at liberty to fix the time slots for bursting crackers, subject to the condition that timings should not exceed two hours a day.
Taking note of the custom that people in Tamil Nadu and other Southern States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry burst fire crackers only on the morning of Diwali, the Supreme court permitted them to stagger the timings but clarified that the duration cannot exceed two hours a day.
A bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, after hearing senior counsel Shekar Naphade for the state and senior counsel Maninder Singh for the cracker manufacturers refused to allow bursting of crackers for two hours between 4.30 and 6.30 in the morning and between 6 pm and 8 pm.
The court said the states can stagger the timings by issuing appropriate notification but the total duration should not exceed two hours a day.
On October 23, the court while declining a ban on sale and bursting of crackers restricted the timings from 6 pm to 8 pm. When counsel urged the court to consider the same for other states as well, and to consider the celebrations by people from Tamil Nadu living in North Indian states, Justice Sikri said that those living in North India should celebrate the way North Indians, do.
He said, “When you live in North India you should celebrate the way Diwali is celebrated here and when you are in South India, celebrate according to the practice there. As they say when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
The court also clarified that the direction regarding green crackers is applicable only for Delhi-NCR and not to the rest of the country. The bench said the final order in the applications filed seeking various clarifications on the directions passed by the Court regarding firecrackers will be passed on Wednesday.
The bench also clarified its October 23 order stating that the direction for use of green crackers was meant for the Delhi-NCR region and was not pan-India. This was after firecracker manufacturers approached the Court expressing difficulty to manufacture ‘green crackers’ before Diwali this year.
Contending that tradition and religious belief of Hindus relating to Diwali should be protected, the Tamil Nadu government sought relaxation of the timings for bursting of fire crackers between 4.30 am and 6.30 am as well as between 6 and 8 pm.
The state said that India is a federal state with different traditions and cultures.
As far as celebrations relating to Diwali are concerned, each state or section of population has a separate set of beliefs, traditions and culture. In Northern India, Diwali is celebrated in the night to celebrate the homecoming of Rama after slaying Ravana, Diwali is therefore on the night of the November 7 this year.
However, in Tamil Nadu, Diwali is celebrated commemorating the death of Narakashura, the Evil, slain by the Goddess in the early hours of dawn.
In Tamil Nadu, on the day of Diwali, people wake up early in the dawn at around 4.00 am, take oil bath, wear new clothes, and start the celebration with bursting fire crackers in the early morning itself. The celebration goes all day. Diwali this year in is on the early morning of November 6