Bombay HC allows Parsis to pray for their dead on Farvardin Roj with restrictions
In a limited relief to members of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP), the Bombay high court has permitted them to hold prayer meetings at the Doongerwadi Tower of Silence at Kemps Corner on September 3 from 7 am to 4.30 pm on the occasion of Farvardin Roj.
The court has said that only six persons, not below the age of 10 years and not above the age of 65 years, would be permitted at a time to be present in each of the five prayer pavilions in the premises along with two priests.
The court also said that in the case of a violation of SOPs laid down by the centre and the guidelines issued by the state government with regards to Covid, the petitioner trustee would be personally held liable for contempt and punishment.
A division bench of justice R D Dhanuka and justice Madhav Jamdar, while hearing the petition filed by Viraf Mehta, a trustee of the BPP, was informed by advocate Prakash Shah that after the meeting with the principal secretary home and secretary disaster management department, as directed by the court on Monday, they had filed an additional affidavit with a modified itinerary for September 3.
Shah submitted that around 200 members of the community would reach Doongerwadi and the trustees would ensure that all Coved-related protocols were followed.
On Farvardin Roj, Parsis offer prayers for the souls of their departed loved ones.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh and advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had submitted that since congregation of people was not allowed, hence BPP should ensure that all the 200 members do not reach the venue at the same time.
Shah and Mehta have accordingly assured the court that the members would come only at the appointed time given to them and would leave after praying for half an hour. They also submitted that not more than six members would be present along with two priests in each of the five pavilions in the expansive property; hence there was no question of a congregation.
After hearing the submissions, the court accepted the undertaking of BPP and directed the state to make arrangements for smooth flow of traffic outside the venue and also said that Mehta would be held personally liable for violations of the undertakings given to the court.
The court also reiterated that BPP should ensure that members below the age of 10 years and above the age of 65 years were not allowed. The court disposed of the petition stating that it was allowing the community considering the peculiar facts of the case and hence it should not be treated as a precedent and disposed of the petition.