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The bench said that the policy does not take into account the inconvenience and traffic congestion that may result on account of granting permissions to various groups that celebrate the Dahi Handi Festival in public streets and public squares of Mumbai
A division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justice Sunil B Shukre and Justice Firdosh Pooniwala yesterday in its order asked the civic authorities to revisit and consider its policy regarding permissions being granted for the celebration of festivals on public roads.
With respect to the celebration of the Dahi Handi Festival the division bench raised its concern about the manner in which the policy regulating celebration of such festivals has been framed.
The bench said that the policy does not take into account the inconvenience and traffic congestion that may result on account of granting permissions to various groups that celebrate the Dahi Handi Festival in public streets and public squares of Mumbai.
The bench in its order said that traditions and cultural practices must also evolve with changing times and changing demographics of the city.
“If it is contended by anybody that such celebrations are part of traditions, culture and social mores of the glorious city of Mumbai, the traditions and cultural practices must also evolve with changing time and changing demographics of the city. Today, we are witness to great influx of migrants to this city and also inherent increase in population of Mumbai,” the bench said.
The bench further added that it’s a situation where there is increase in the density of population in most of the areas of Mumbai and at the same time, we have also seen that the capacity of the public roads and public amenities has not been increased in proportion to increase in the population and its density.
The high court emphasized that policy makers should consider whether permission should be granted to celebrate festivals in public streets.
“Therefore, now the time has come for the authorities and for the policy makers to revisit the policy already framed to regulate such festivals. The Policy makers would have to ask a question to themselves as to whether or not permission should be given to celebrate the festivals at public squares and in public streets, where huge crowds/groups are expected to visit to take part in the celebrations. The Policy makers would have to also think as to whether or not such celebrations should be perforce shifted to open spaces and public grounds,” the bench said.
Further, the order stated that the policymakers would also have to consider the issue pertaining to imposing additional conditions for limiting the number of participants in such events. Additionally, they would also have to think of identifying the time slots within which such festivals are celebrated by different groups at the same venue.
The division bench also recorded that if the policy is reframed then there would be a balance between public expression of religious sentiments and larger public interest of reducing the inconvenience to road users.
“If the policy is re-framed or modified by taking into consideration all these aspects, we are of the view that there would be a proper balance struck between the need for public expression of religious sentiments on one hand and need for protecting larger public interest by reducing the inconvenience to the road users and the residents of near by localities and also reducing traffic congestion at such venues on the other hand,” the bench said.
Case title: Sachin D. Basare vs State of Maharashtra & Ors
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