Under 18 cannot participate in Dahi Handi festival in Maha: SC

New Delhi, Aug 17 (PTI) The Supreme Court today said thatyouth below 18 years of age cannot participate in the DahiHandi ritual, part of the Janmashtami festival, in Maharashtraand the height of the human pyramid for it cannot exceed 20feet, a limit fixed by the Bombay High Court. A bench comprising justices A R Dave and L Nageswara Rao,which decided to hear the revived petition in October thisyear, however suspended the operation of two other directionspassed by the High Court to regulate the Dahi Handi festival. The High Court directions, which have been suspended bythe apex court, relate to amending the existing law to barchildren below 18 years of age from participating in dangerousperformances. It also suspended the direction pertaining to 15 daysprior approval from the authorities concerned to check thedate of birth certificates of ‘Govindas’ to ensure that nounderage children take part in it. During the hearing, the bench agreed with the High Courtdirections with regard to the minimum age of participants andthe maximum height of the pyramid. The Supreme Court had, on August 10, revived a pleachallenging a Bombay HC order restricting the height of humanpyramids to 20 feet for ‘Dahi-Handi’ ritual, saying it needsto hear the PIL petitioner before passing any order. The court had sought reply of Swati Sayaji Patil, asocial worker, who had filed a petition for initiation ofcontempt proceedings against Maharashtra government in highcourt for failure to comply with the HC order. The Maharashtra government had earlier approached theapex court seeking clarification on its 2014 order by which ithad stayed the high court decision banning participation ofthose below 18-years in a popular ‘Dahi-Handi’ ritual. The high court had on August 11, 2014, while hearing apetition filed by Patil, ordered that the height of humanpyramids should not exceed 20 feet and that children below theage of 18 years should not be allowed to participate. The state government had then challenged the high courtorder in the Supreme Court which had initially suspended theHC order and later dismissed the petition challenging it. The Maharashtra government had taken a stand that sincethe apex court had not expressed any opinion on restrictionimposed by the HC on the height of human pyramids, it was notbound by its earlier order. The high court, however, had asked the state governmentto seek clarification from the Supreme Court on the aspectthat its earlier order would be in force unless it had beenset aside by the apex court. PTI ABA SJK RKS RRTDV

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