NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern over the safety of young Govindas who put their lives at stake during Dahi Handi celebrations, disallowing youth below 18 years of age to participate in the ritual and said the maximum height of human pyramid cannot exceed 20 feet.
The Dahi Handi ceremony is annually held on Janmasthami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. It involves forming a human pyramid and breaking an elevated earthen pot filled with buttermilk.
A bench comprising Justice A R Dave and Justice L Nageswara Rao, which decided to hear the petition in October this year, however suspended the operation of two other directions passed by the High Court to regulate the Dahi Handi festival. During the hearing, the bench agreed with the High Court directions with regard to the minimum age of participants and the maximum height of the pyramid.
The court asked the Maharashtra government as to why it has not stepped in so far to have a mechanism for verifying the age of participants.
“We only know of Lord Krishna stealing butter, but not the acrobatics involved,” Justice Rao remarked. On this Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta responded and said, “This cannot be classified as a dangerous performance for the purpose of earning money. They are not performances. It is finally for the State to take a call on that aspect.” The bench agreed to comprehensively hear the issue.
The Supreme Court had, on August 10, revived a plea challenging a Bombay HC order restricting the height of human pyramids to 20 feet for ‘Dahi-Handi’ ritual, saying it needs to hear the PIL petitioner before passing any order.
The court had sought reply of Swati Sayaji Patil, a social worker, who had filed a petition for initiation of contempt proceedings against Maharashtra government in high court for failure to comply with the High Court order.