Contempt of court petition filed against the state government for Dahi Handi regulations violation

Several Dahi Handi groups have been found turning a blind eye towards the court’s guidelines for the festival and this year, the regulations were violated in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and so, a contempt of court petition has been filed by Swati Patil.

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Indian festivals are celebrated pompously and involve vibrant and extravagant celebration. One such festival is Gokulashtami where the Govindas or Dahi Handi participants must break the ‘Handi’ after climbing on a human pyramid. However, during the celebrations every year, several people end up getting hurt. This year too, a lot of Govindas got injured and eventually, one such Govinda died due to an epileptic attack. However, several Dahi Handi groups have been found turning a blind eye towards the court’s guidelines for the festival. In response, Lokjagruti Samajik Sanstha’s Swati Patil filed a contempt of court petition against the state government in High Court.

Patil told Mumbai Live that action should be taken against the people who did not adhere to the regulations of the court during the festival including the police, the municipal corporation, the Charity Commissioner and the Sports Committee of the Dahi Handi sport. During the festival, the people build a human pyramid as a part of the festival’s ritual. However, many times when the human pyramid falls, it leads to death or even results in serious injury to the participants.

And these human pyramids consist of children that are under 14 years of age. In fact, there have been cases where children under 10 years have been found as a part of these groups and they are made to climb the human pyramids.

In 2014, Patil had approached High court demanding that the Govindas must not be under 18 years of age and the height of the human pyramid should be five-floored and up to 20 feet high. However, the matter was taken further to the Supreme Court that stayed on the High Court’s decision. But during a hearing of a writ petition, the Supreme Court limited the age of a Govinda to 14 years.

Despite strict orders from the Supreme Court to adhere to the regulations, the state government seemed to have paid no heed to the court’s orders. As per the regulations, the Govinda should be above 14 years of age, he/she must be provided with a helmet, safety belt, harness belt, chest guard etc. which ensure his/her safety. Alongside there should be a layer of mattresses on the floor for the Govindas compulsorily.

However, the above-mentioned regulations have been violated on several occasions which have caused disasters. 14-year-old Chirag Patekar lies in coma due to inadequate safety measures. Also as per regulations, the prize money that is decided to be given to the Govindas firstly has to be filed at a Charity Commissioner’s office but that regulation hasn’t been followed.

Looking at which, Patil filed a Contempt of Court petition against the state government because the regulations were violated in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Accordingly, the petition will be heard in the High Court soon.

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