New Delhi: Holding that human life is more important than anything else the Supreme Court on Friday ordered a complete ban on production, sale and use of pesticide Endosulfan for eight weeks.

"We don't want a single child to suffer.It is the risk which is bothering us. What is bothering us is that not a single child should suffer. Even if one child is suffering we would not like that situation," a bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said while passing the interim order.

The court's interim order came on a petition seeking a ban on Endolsulfan on the ground that it was causing health hazards including genetic disorders in Kerala where it is widely used.

Endosulfan is an off-patent organochlorine insecticide and acaricide.

The bench said it was concerned about right to life of the citizen guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and even the companies involved in the manufacturing of the controversial pesticide cannot ignore corporate and social responsibility by ignoring the hazards posed to human lives.

The bench said it was strictly going by Article 21 and the law laid down by the Apex Court in this regard where the state laws can be kept aside.

"Keeping in mind various judgments of this court under Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution and particularly keeping in mind the precautionary principle we, hereby, direct and pass ad-interim order for immediate ban on production and use of Endosulfan all over India," the bench said.

Freeze production licences

The bench also directed the statutory authorities to freeze the production licences granted to the manufacturers of the pesticide till its further order.

The bench further said a detailed study from all aspect needs to be done by an expert committee and directed the government to form it by amalgamating the two committees -
one headed by the Director General of Indian Counsel for Medical Research and another by Agricultural Commissioner of the Ministry of Agriculture.

"If the expert committee on detail study comes to the conclusion that there is no harmful affect of the Endosulfan, the preliminary report will be considered for vacating the interim stay. So, till the expert committee gives its preliminary report by eight weeks, the complete ban on the production and sale of Endosulfan will be in operation," the bench said.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, apprised the judges about reports of various committees on Endosulfan and stressed that
human lives was above everything.

Cost effective pesticide

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the makers of Endosulfan, submitted that it was the most cost effective pesticide available at Rs 300 per litre compared to others which are priced at Rs 4,000 per litre.

Rohatgi's submission did not cut much ice with the bench which said "financial interest cannot substitute human interest".

The bench was also critical of the submissions of the companies that they have made huge investments on the project and any adverse order would have grave consequences.

"We don't want a position that would become irreversible," the bench said while refusing any relaxation on the issue of Endosulfan.

The bench said it would not restrict itself to the issue of Endosulfan to Kerala, which has bore the maximum brunt of the pesticide and considered it on the national prospective.

US, Oz to phase out pesticide

Senior advocate Krishna Venugopal appearing for the CPI-M's youth wing Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) opposed the submissions of Subramanium that Endosulfan was
used in countries - USA, Australia and Brazil.

He informed the court that USA and Australia is already in the process of phasing out the pesticide. DYFI has sought a country-wide ban on sale and production of Endosulfan in its present form or any other derivatives, contending that a large section of people was directly affected because of its use. It also noted that Endosulfan has been already banned in 81 countries.

The petitioner said several studies had documented that the pesticide could affect human development. It gave example of serious health hazards caused in Kerala's Kasaragod district.

(Agencies)