KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered that all pandals in West Bengal, where Durga Puja will be held this year, be made no-entry zones for members of the public, as was directed last year, to curb the spread of Covid-19 infection due to crowding.
A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj passed the order on a PIL seeking a direction to the West Bengal government to make proper arrangements so that there is no large gathering during the Durga Puja festival at different places.
The counsel for the petitioners referred to orders passed by the high court on October 19 and 21 in 2020 in this regard, submitting that the same protocols be followed for the current year as well in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus that has claimed several thousand lives in the state since its outbreak in March last year.
State Advocate General S N Mukherjee submitted that the previous year's orders will be followed by the authorities concerned.
Noting the "fair stand taken by the learned Advocate General", the division bench disposed of the PIL directing that the previous year's orders on restriction in entering Durga Puja pandals will be followed this time also.
The high court had in 2020 directed that all Durga Puja pandals be made no-entry zones for members of the public for that year's festival.
It had further ordered that for smaller pandals, a five-metre zone beyond the extremities of the pandals on all sides and, for larger pandals, a 10-metre area around them will be part of the no-entry zone.
The high court had directed that the only exception would be for the named persons, including the priest, who will be identified by the puja organisers in advance and whose names would be displayed for checks to be made at any point of time.
At smaller pandals, 15 people will be named in the list who may have access to the no-entry zone at all times and the number will be 25 to 30 in respect of the bigger to the biggest pandals, the bench, comprising Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee had directed.
The court had ordered that these directions would apply to all public puja pandals all over the state.