Office-bearers of Ganesh mandals that have put up pandals for the 10-day festival without prior permission from the local authority will face action for contempt of court, the Bombay high court (HC) warned on Tuesday.
“Illegality cannot be tolerated only because several people resolve to indulge in it,” said a division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice VL Achliya. “We will initiate contempt proceedings against every mandal that has put up temporary pandals [for Ganeshotsav] without prior permission.”
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by an activist, Dr Mahesh Bedekar, complaining about flouting of rules for celebration of festivals like Ganeshotsav, navratri and dahi handi in Thane, and the callous approach of the authorities towards complaints of violations.
The court has directed government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani to submit reports by teams of revenue officers that have been directed to visit the municipal corporation and council limits to check if pandals have been put up without the required permission.
The direction came after the petitioner’s counsel, senior advocate SM Gorwadkar, pointed out that despite the restrictions by the court, dahi handi was celebrated on main roads in Thane.
On June 24, the court made the norms to permit temporary pandals for celebrating religious festivals on public roads and footpaths stricter. The bench had directed municipal commissioners to take into consideration the citizens’ right to free movement, while using discretionary powers to grant permissions for temporary pandals.
The court had directed all district collectors to form teams headed by tehsildars or other revenue officers to periodically visit municipal areas at least seven days prior to major festivals.