The Bombay High Court on Monday accepted Maharashtra government’s statement that it would not allow children below the age of 14 years to participate in the ‘Dahi Handi’ festival.
A division bench of Justices B R Gavai and M S Karnik, however, refused to impose restrictions on the height of human pyramid formations during the festival.
“It is not for the high court to impose restrictions on the age of the participants and height of the pyramids as this falls exclusively in the domain of the state legislature,” Justice Gavai said.
“We accept the statement made by the state government that it would ensure children below 14 years of age would not participate in the Dahi Handi festival,” the judge said.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government, told the court that as per the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, children below 14 years of age will not be allowed to participate in the festival since the government had declared ‘Dahi Handi’ as an adventure sport in August last year.
The court was hearing two petitions filed by city residents, raising concerns over the participation of minors in the festival and lack of safety measures, due to which several untoward incidents occur.
In 2014, the high court had passed an order saying children below the age of 18 years cannot participate in the festival, and had also imposed a height restriction of 20 ft for the pyramids.
The state government had then appealed in the Supreme Court, which on August 1 this year referred the matter back to the high court directing it to hear the petitions afresh.
Incidentally, despite the HC ruling, several mandals across the city had violated the guidelines last year. Although Mumbai police had registered FIRs in 21 such cases, most accused were allowed to leave with minor fines.
With PTI inputs