Bombay High Court
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Bombay HC allows limited conduct of Muharram rituals in Maharashtra with participation of 5 persons [Read Order]

The Court added that the order was being passed by way of an exception, and it is not intended to be used as a precedent by others.

Meera Emmanuel

The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed the limited conduct of Muharram rituals amid the COVID-19 pandemic, capping the number of participants allowed and the area that can be covered.

An order to this effect was passed by a Bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and MV Jamdar in a plea filed by Shia'ite organisation, the All India Idaara-Tahafuz-E-Hussainiyat.

The order comes a day after the Supreme Court declined to entertain a plea for permission to carry out limited Muharram processions across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, observing that allowing such a plea may lead to the adverse targetting of "one particular community."

The petitioner before the High Court sought for the conduct of Muharram rituals in a limited manner between August 27 and August 30, for two hours.

The High Court ultimately allowed the carrying of one Taziya as part of the ritual which would be carried out with the participation of only five persons and within a one-hour period in a limited area.

The decision to allow the conditional conduct of the Muharram rituals was taken after taking stock of the stand of the Principal Secretary, Home Department and the Secretary of the Disaster Management Department of Maharashtra.

Further, the Court also heard the submissions of the State's Advocate General as well as the Additional Government Pleader.

The petitoner was granted permission to carry out the Muharram rituals, after it undertook to comply with the following restrictions:

  • There will only be one Taziya

  • The lone Taziya will be carried from Zainabia (Bhendi Bazar) Mumbai to Byculla Mazgaon, Shia Cemetry, situated at Mumbai.

  • This route to be taken is also specified.

  • The Taziya will be transported in a truck, i.e. a transport vehicle large enough to accommodate it.

  • There will not be any procession as such, for carrying the said one Taziya in this way.

  • There will be no congregation of people, although the carrying of one Taziya for the entire State is being allowed as set out above.

  • This Taziya will be carried strictly along this route on Sunday, August 30 from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

  • Not more than fve persons will carry the one Taziya on a truck along with one videographer.

  • However, after taking the aforesaid one Taziya down near the graveyard, it will be carried on foot, for a distance of not more than hundred meters.

  • The names, age and addresses of these five persons will be submitted with the office of the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai by 5 pm tomorrow.

The Court also directed the petitioner organisation and all its members to strictly comply with all other COVID-19 guidelines applicable.

The Court also stated that no reasons to support this order are being recorded, as it is being passed by way of an exception and since it is not intended to be used as a precedent by others seeking to hold "festival/festivities, which would involve by their very nature congregation of people."

Senior Advocate Rajendra Shirodkar along with Advocates Asif Naqvi, Jafer Nadeem and Archit Shirodkar and instructed by Advocate Shehazad Naqvi appeared for the petitioner.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni along with Government Pleader Purnima Kantharia, Additional Government Pleader, Geeta Shastri and Panel counsel Akshay Shinde appeared for the Respondents.

Read the Order:

All India Idaara-E-Tahafuz-E-Hussainiyat v. State of Maharashtra.pdf
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