New Delhi: Call it a respite for festive enthusiasts or a hazard to the environment, the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday refused to order a blanket ban on firecrackers, permitting their sale and use during festivals with certain conditions.

Hearing a petition filed by three children seeking a complete ban on firecrackers, a two-judge bench comprising Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan refused to put a complete ban on firecrackers and allowed their use from 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali. The SC has fixed a similar time period for Christmas and New Year as well — from 11.55 pm to 12.30 am.

The bench held that it tried to “strike a balance” while announcing the limit ‘for festivals and weddings.’

The court ordered to identify designated places for use of firecrackers within a week. The judges allowed sale of firecrackers with reduced emissions and permitted chemical levels, that too only by licensed traders. Online sale of firecrackers was stayed by the top court.

To put a cap on the emission, the Apex court allowed sale of firecrackers which are within the noise pollution limits set in July 2005. Chain crackers are banned. The court had temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali on October 9 last year.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Delhi is the most polluted city in the world.

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