Kerala HC Upholds Tradition in Modified Firecracker Ban

The Kerala High Court’s Division Bench, led by Chief Justice AJ Desai and Justice VG Arun, has partially modified the previous order to seize illegal firecrackers in religious places, granting respite to the age-old practice of bursting firecrackers in religious places. The judicial siren call came after an interim prohibition enforced on November 3 by Justice Amit Rawal ended this loved ritual, sparking intense debate from both sides.

The High Court’s latest stance, declared on Tuesday, tries to strike a careful balance between protecting the public interest and supporting religious practices that are firmly ingrained in Kerala’s cultural fabric. The latest stance now permits the firing of firecrackers between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., in accordance with Supreme Court orders. Beyond these hours, district administrations have been given the authority to assess petitions from religious institutions on a case-by-case basis. This verdict offered much-needed clarification to the puzzling idea of “odd hours.”

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The state administration, which strongly defended the custom and emphasized its historical value, had previously restricted the use of firecrackers between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., with exceptions made for special events. The government’s position revealed that firecrackers had been an indispensable part of temple festivities for decades and had a special place in the hearts of many believers.

The most significant alteration in the court’s decision is the omission of the clause in the single bench judgment authorizing searches on religious institutions to seize unlawfully stored firecrackers. The Kerala government has previously objected to this policing tactic, claiming that it was not justified by the facts nor legally sound.

In response to a petition by six Maradu locals in Ernakulam district, the sole judge ordered a blanket ban on firecrackers at the Marattil Kottaram Bhagavathy temple, citing safety concerns for people, particularly children. The Division Bench’s decision, on the other hand, has retained the core of this heritage while remaining committed to public safety.

The spiritual sentiment that propels these events, which are tightly integrated into Kerala’s cultural tapestry, has not been brushed aside. The Kerala High Court has recognized the relevance of tradition while strengthening public safety regulations by allowing firecrackers to light up the sky during daytime hours and letting district collectors utilize their discretion wisely.

This ruling, although nuanced, demonstrates the legal system’s response to the complex fabric of tradition that contributes to Kerala’s dynamic cultural kaleidoscope. It also acts as a reminder that, when used carefully, the law may strike a harmonic chord between legacy and modern sensibilities, providing a ray of hope for the preservation of deeply embedded rituals that define a society’s identity.

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