Minor 'govindas' banned, human pyramids restricted
The Bombay High Court Monday banned the participation of children below 18 years as 'govindas' in the human pyramids raised to mark the 'Dahi-Handi' festival.
A division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice P.D. Kode also directed the Maharashtra government to restrict and enforce the height of the hyman pyramids to 20 feet, with stringent punishment to violators.
The ruling came in the wake of two Mumbai youths succumbing to injuries during 'dahi-handi' practice.
This prompted Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state executive president Jitendra Awhad to declare that he would challenge it in the Supreme Court.
The judges directed the state government to issue a circular by Tuesday and publicise it widely since the 'Dahi-Handi' festival is scheduled Aug 18 after Janmashthami.
The court's ruling came during a bunch of public interest litigations before it, including one by social worker Swati Patil of the NGO Utkarsh Mahila Samajik Sanstha of Chembur.
The judges also asked all 'Dahi-Handi' festival organisers to ensure the health and safety of the 'govindas' rather than hankering for the money offered by various organisations and political parties for the winners.
Among the directions are to inform the local competent authority at least 15 days before the festival about the venue of the celebrations, an undertaking to make available immediate medical assistance, first aid, ambulances and other required infrastructure to rush the injured 'govindas' to hospital.
The organisers have also been directed to provide safety helmets, safety belts to the 'govindas' and cushion layers to minimise or avoid injuries to the participants at the venue of the celebrations.
All organisations would be required to furnish the names, addresses, photographs and age proof of the 'govindas' taking part in the human pyramids to the concerned authorities as well as consent letters of voluntary participation from each 'govinda,' and take out an insurance policy for them.
In order to comply with these and other requirements, the state government has been directed to amend relevant sections of the Bombay Police Act with reference to 'dangerous activities' by including higher pyramids which could attract penal action.
(Posted on 12-08-2014)