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Bombay High Court lifts ban on 20-feet limit for Dahi Handi pyramids

The Bombay high court on Monday lifted the ban on the 20-feet height limit on Dahi Handi’s human pyramids. Further, the court has accepted the statement made by the state government that those below the age of 14 years cannot be allowed to participate in the Dahi Handi festival.

The court made it clear putting limitations on height of the Dahi Handi and deciding age bar for the participant in the festival falls within the domain of legislature. The HC said it would not interfere in the state’s work.

A division bench of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Makarand Karnik was hearing two petitions regarding safety of the govindas. In August 2014, the high court restricted heights of human pyramids to 20 feet and barred children below 18 years from participating in them.

Many Dahi Handi mandals and the state had challenged the high court’s order in the Supreme Court (SC) .On August 1, the SC had sent the matter back to the high court asking it to consider the plea afresh in the wake of material furnished by the state government and individuals. The SC had asked the HC to take the matter for hearing on Monday.

On Monday, additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta who appeared on behalf of the state told the court that there is no statutory provision to put an age bar while constructing human pyramid and deciding height limit in the Dahi Handi festival.

He further informed the court that the state has decided not to allow children who are below the age of 14 because as per the Child and Adolescent (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, children below the age of 14 cannot participate in adventure sport and in the year 2016, the state government through issuing a GR had declared Dahi Handi as an adventure sport.

Mr Mehta also informed the court that state is ready to abide by all the safety conditions, which had been laid down by the HC in 2014. These conditions include making compulsory use of helmets, chest guard, safety ropes and keeping first-aid and ambulances ready on the spot.

Petitioner’s lawyer informed the court that the high court should not allow the state government’s prayer because many govindas have been injured in the past after falling down from excessive heights of Dahi Handi pyramids.

“Risk is everywhere, we have seen that many people died while clicking selfies, shall we put ban on clicking selfies too?” said the court.

“A well-known doctor who was in my acquaintance had died because he did excessive exercise. Can we entertain if such PILs come before us under Article 226 of the Constitution?” said the court. Article 226 concerns with the power of high courts to issue certain writs.

The court, however, said the state must implement all preventive and remedial measures to ensure the safety of participants and spectators in the Dahi Handi festival.

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