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Human pyramids can rise above 20 ft: Supreme Court

Friday, 15 August 2014 - 5:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Apex court stays HC order on height and age bar on Dahi Handi celebrations

The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday stayed the Bombay high court (HC) order that human pyramids formed during Dahi Handi festival should not exceed 20 feet. With this, there will be no restriction on the height of the pyramids this year.

Dahi Handi will be celebrated on Monday (August 18).

The August 11 HC order had also said that only children above 18 years of age can participate in human pyramid formation. The SC stayed that order as well. The bar will now apply only to children below 12 years.

The SC, however, directed the state government to ensure compliance of the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra Commission for Protection of Child Rights for their safety during the festival.

A bench headed by chief justice R M Lodha sought the state's response before examining the issue for future while hearing a plea of an organiser against the HC order.

What was the petitioner's argument?
Petitioners Jitendra Awhad's counsel said: "Precautionary measures are being taken and this is a religious function-cum-festival and everyone enjoys it and there should not be any restriction on the height." The HC, in its order, had issued various directions to ensure the safety of Govindas. It asked the organisers to give due importance to the health and safety of the participants in the festival. Organisers were also asked to provide helmets and safety belts to Govindas and cushion layers at the venue of performance.

How are the Mandals reacting?
Mandals are obviously happy. They were unhappy with the HC order. "We were a little upset with the HC order and it is good that the SC has heard our side," said Bala Padelkar, president of the Dahi Handi Utsav Samanvay Samiti (DUSS), the umbrella organisation of the Dahi Handi Mandals / Pataks. "To some extent our issues are not resolved completely but whatever decision has come we will accept it and comply with it. Those below 12 will not play in this Govinda and we are trying to send out to mandals/ pataks the message that they do not have anyone below 12 years of age," he said.

Who are opposing it?
People like Sakhi Khamkar, the mother of son Bhaved (11), who fell down from a seven-tier human pyramid. His left leg was fractured and he underwent a major surgery and was admitted to hospital for five days.
"The high court's decision not to raise the pyramid above 20 feet was very good. Small children should not be allowed to participate in this festival. My son's legs are saved, otherwise we have heard that people become paralytics," she said.

What are Mandals planning to do?
The Dahi Handi Utsav Samanvay Samiti plans to meet the state government to chalk out a strategy. The pataks, too, welcomed the move with a similar reaction. Swapnil Sheramkar, secretary Tadwadi Sridutta Krida Mandal and Tadwadi Ashtavinayak Govinda Patak said that they will perform the pyramids without having any below 12 year old. "We welcome the order and we will form same number of tiers as we used to. We will try and find a replacement for the under 12 children that works out well," said Sheramkar.

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