In a limited relief to All India Idara Tahfaz e Hussainiyat, a religious organisation in south Mumbai representing a section of the Shia community, the Bombay High Court on Friday permitted it to hold a Muharram procession consisting of not more than five persons on Sunday.
The court allowed the organisation to take out the Tazia, a replica of the mausoleum of Imam Hussain, by truck only from Bhendi Bazaar to the graveyard in Mazgaon. The five persons can carry the Tazia on foot while covering the last 100 m towards the graveyard.
The court asked the organisation to give an undertaking to adhere to other guidelines laid down by the state for the same, failing which action would be initiated against them as per law.
A division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice Madhav Jamdar was hearing a petition filed by the organisation, seeking directions to allow rituals of Muharram while following Covid-19 protocols.
Senior advocate Rajendra Shirodkar and lawyer Shehzad Naqvi, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that Shia Muslims were seeking permission for a limited number of persons to perform the rituals in south Mumbai.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the government, said the state had recently issued a resolution stating that Muharram be observed in a simple manner and processions would not be allowed in the wake of the pandemic. The state had, however, has allowed the setting up of sabeels (food and water stalls) with maximum of two persons and distributing only sealed water bottles by following hygiene and physical distancing norms, he added.
The bench directed the state to prepare guidelines for the organisation to take out the Tazia on Sunday.
It further referred to an undertaking by officials of the organisation, which stated that only one Tazia will be carried from Bhendi Bazaar to Mazgaon Shia graveyard. No other Tazia will be carried anywhere else in the state.
The petitioner said that the Tazia will taken in a truck on August 30 between 4.30 to 5.30 pm and there will not be any procession as such. “In no case whatsoever, any congregation of people at any point, from the beginning till the end of the said journey of aforesaid one Tazia, will be allowed,” the order stated. It added that only four persons and a videographer will carry the Tazia on the truck and after taking it down near the graveyard, it will be carried on foot by them for the last 100 m.
The order also said that the state would impose restriction over gathering of people at appropriate places, including the starting point of the Tazia, up to the graveyard, under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The members of the organisation agreed that they will strictly abide by the other guidelines issued by the state for Muharram.
The court noted in its order, “…This order is being passed as and by way of an exception, which is not intended to be used as a precedent by other persons, to seek permissions, to hold any festival/festivities, which would involve by their very nature congregation of people.”
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