In relief to Sikh community, the Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench Friday allowed the Nanded Gurudwara management board to conduct annual Dussehra celebrations and Guru Granth Sahib procession with restrictions.
On October 19, the Supreme Court had asked the Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) to take a call on the request and said the board could approach the High Court if it is not satisfied with the decision.
The state government in an affidavit told the apex court that allowing it will not be a “practically feasible option” given the Covid-19 situation.
The SDMA on October 21 rejected petitioner’s representation to conduct the Dussehra, Takhat Isnan, Dipmala Mahalla, Gurta Gaddi Kirtan and Gurta-Gaddi Sampathi Kirtan Darbar Nagar Kirtan event at Nanded.
A division bench of Justice S V Gangapurwala and Justice Shrikant D Kulkarni passed an order on Friday, while hearing the writ plea of The Takht Sachkhand Shri Hazur Apchalnagar Sahib Board, Nanded, filed through senior counsel Rajendra S Deshmukh, challenging the SDMA order and seeking permission for celebrations following Covid-19 protocols.
The court noted: “It appears that the event sought to be conducted has a tradition of three centuries.”
The bench further asked advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and senior counsel Devadatt Kamat representing the state government to find out a solution for conducting the event in a restricted manner.
In view of this, the Court said the Board may conduct the Dussehra celebrations and Guru Granth Sahib procession at Nanded by observing strict conditions.
The restrictions included that the Board was allowed to carry one Palkhi Sahib with Guru Granth Sahib, sixteen historical Nishan Sahib, five horses of Guru Sahib, three Kirtan Jathe on two large open trucks.
The court noted that the procession shall commence at 4 pm and conclude at 5 30 pm on October 25 and that 16 persons would board one truck and eight people would board another truck for the distance of 1.5 kilometre, and the details of the route shall be conveyed to authorities by Saturday, October 24.
The court also asked the petitioner to get those boarding the trucks tested for Covid-19 and only those having Covid-19 negative reports shall be permitted to board the trucks, which would be accompanied by pilot and escort cars of the police. None should accompany the trucks on foot.
The Board is also asked to video graph the entire event while its secretary has to give personal undertaking to the state authority that he would supervise entire proceedings and no conditions would be violated.
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