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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave state governments the flexibility to choose a timing for bursting firecrackers but stuck to its earlier restriction of allowing it for only two hours on festival days.

Under its earlier order passed on 23 October, the apex court had allowed bursting of firecrackers between fixed time slots—from 8pm to 10pm for Diwali and between 11.55pm and 12.30am on other occasions such as Christmas and New Year.

The court modified its order following a plea by the Tamil Nadu government seeking a review and seeking permission for bursting firecrackers between 4am and 6am.

The 23 October order sought to strike a balance by refusing to impose a complete ban on the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali and conditionally allowing sale of fireworks that met the standards of low emission and decibel in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

The top court allowed environment-friendly firecrackers to be sold but allowed their sale only through licensed traders. The court has also banned the manufacture, sale and use of so-called joined firecrackers such as series crackers or laris.

E-commerce platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon were directed to not sell fireworks online. If they are found to be doing so, they would be hauled up for contempt of court and may have to face monetary penalties.

The court had earlier observed that there was a need to strike a balance between the right to health of citizens and the right to carry on trade by fireworks manufacturers.

A complete ban was opposed by the centre, which argued conditions could be imposed on the manufacture and sale of high-decibel firecrackers instead.

The court’s ruling was passed on a plea by three children seeking restoration of last year’s order banning sale of firecrackers in view of worsening air quality in the NCR.

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