HC orders CBI probe into sale of Chinese fireworks

27th September 2014

Courtesy: The Times of India

HC orders CBI probe into sale of Chinese fireworks

MADURAI: Search, seize and destroy. This, in effect, is the crux of an order by the Madras high court, which ordered CBI probe into illegal import of China-made crackers. It asked customs, revenue intelligence and other enforcement agencies to undertake concerted efforts to "prevent, check and detect" Chinese crackers flooding the country, putting the nation-s economy and children-s safety in peril.

A division bench consisting of justices N Kirubakaran and S Vaidyanathan, delivering a judgment on a PIL filed by A Muthukrishnan of Sivakasi on Wednesday, said: "As safety, security and economy of our country is involved in this matter, CBI alone is competent to investigate the offences." Asking the CBI director to take over a pending case registered by Sivakasi police, the bench said even if the local police had laid chargesheet in the matter, it should be transferred to the CBI and the central agency must do re-investigation.

"The crime, importing of Chinese crackers involves not only offences under the Explosive Substances Act and its connected Rules, but also under the Customs Act. Similar prohibited goods were already seized in Mumbai, Ghaziabad, Mundra (Kutch), Gujarat and Chennai on various dates. The clandestine import of Chinese crackers has become all-India racket perpetrated by organized groups, and the state police authorities may not be in a position and jurisdiction to conduct the investigation. Therefore, only a central agency would be in a position to conduct an investigation properly throughout the nation," justice Kirubakaran, who wrote the judgment for the bench, observed.

"All importers, stockists, distributors and retailers of Chinese fireworks have to be forthwith identified. Their places should be raided and Chinese crackers seized," the bench said adding that agencies must register FIRs and arrest them forthwith.

On May 14 this year, Sivakasi tahsildar seized the banned Chinese fireworks from a sales depot in Sivakasi, and registered an FIR on May 17. During the previous hearing, the court was informed that in 2011-12 six cases were filed, in 2012-13 a total of nine cases were filed. Six cases in 2013-14 and two in 2014-15 were registered in the country.

After going through the counter-affidavit filed by the customs, the court said there was a lack of coordination and cooperation among various government agencies, and added that they should take emergent steps to install proper mechanism/safeguards in all sea ports and airports to scan a majority of containers so as to rule out any contraband goods at the point of entry itself. "Instead of taking appropriate safeguards to verify/check goods at the entry point itself, there is no point in conducting investigation after allowing the prohibited items in, and after facing consequences," Justice Kirubakaran observed. He also wanted the government to government publicise the dangers of Chinese fireworks and undertake awareness campaigns on the issue.

Chinese fireworks contain prohibited chemical substances, chlorides and penchlorides which give more colours and better display, but they are highly volatile, friction-sensitive, dangerous for environment and users.

Hence, the Centre-s Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organization is against the use of such fireworks, and has negatived fireworks imports from China, the court has been informed.

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