Won’t curb dahi handi revelry, mishaps occur even in toilets, says Bombay HC
The Maharashtra government recently notified dahi handi as ‘adventure sport’ and consequently the matter of age of the participants will be restricted to not below 14 yearsmumbai Updated: Aug 08, 2017 08:42 IST
Remarking that “an accident could take place anywhere, even in one’s own home, or the toilet,” and that the courts need not issue regulations for “everything,” the Bombay high court on Monday refused to issue directions regulating the age of participants, and the height limit for the human pyramids formed during dahi handi celebrations.
A bench of justice BR Gavai and justice MS Karnik accepted the state government’s statement that children below 14 years of age will not be permitted to participate in the event.
The bench dismissed the petitioners’ arguments advocating such restrictions to prevent accidents and questioned the premise of their prayer seeking that the height of the pyramids be restricted to 10 to 20 feet. “Why not 30 feet, or 50 or 60 feet?” When one of the petitioners claimed 10 feet was the ideal height because it would be safe and it was also the height of the “pyramid that Lord Krishna built at his home”, justice Gavai said “it wasn’t even clear if Lord Krishna existed in the first place.”
The high court remarked it could not interfere with matters of the state legislature and it could at best only examine whether the state’s rules were in consonance with the constitutional Rights to Life and Liberty. “If there is no incongruity with Articles 14 and 21, we cannot interfere… Besides, events similar to dahi handi take place worldwide and accidents also take place... Every day, we hear of people falling to their deaths from hilltops, buildings etc. while taking selfies, can we issue guidelines for regulating selfies?” justice Gavai said.
The bench was hearing two PILs seeking the implementation of a 2014 high court order prohibiting those below 18 years of age from participating in formation of the human pyramids. At the time, the court had also issued a slew of directions to the state on implementing preventive and remedial security measures for the participants. The said order had fixed 20 feet as the maximum permissible height for such pyramids. This order was subsequently challenged by the state in the Apex Court that in turn sent the matter back to the high court directing it be heard afresh.
On Monday, additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta submitted that the age of the participants was a matter of state legislature and hence, did not warrant a judicial order. Mehta also submitted that since the state had recently notified dahi handi as an “adventure sport,” the participants’ age will automatically be restricted to 14 years and above in consonance with the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.
He also said the state had submitted an affidavit in the Apex Court enlisting the remedial and preventive security measures such as the availability of immediate medical aid, a helpline, ambulances at the sites of dahi handi pyramids, and that all Govindas or participants of the pyramid will also be insured of the amount of Rs10 lakh each.