The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) to take a call on the Nanded gurudwara management board’s request for permission to conduct the annual Dussehra celebrations and the Guru Granth Sahib procession.
A special bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi asked the board to file a representation in this regard with the SDMA and said it could approach the Bombay High Court if it is not satisfied with the decision.
It asked the Authority to examine if the procession could be allowed to be held early in morning with limited gathering.
The Nanded Sikh Gurudwara Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Board had approached the Supreme Court, seeking its nod for the ‘Dushera, Takht Isnan, Deepmala and Gurta Gaddi’ which it said has been organised for about three centuries.
The state government in an affidavit told the court that allowing it will not be a “practically feasible option” given the Covid-19 situation and that it had consciously decided not to allow any religious function to check the spread of the virus.
The board’s counsel pointed out that it could be allowed with 40-50 people in attendance given that the state government has already allowed marriage ceremonies with 50 guests.
As concerns were expressed on the number of people who would join the procession along the way if it is conducted sometime in afternoon, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, pointed out that the procession would cover 1.5 km and “they could consider holding it between 7-9 am so that only the persons participating in the ritual are there and passers-by are not involved”.
The bench referred to the Jagannath Puri Yatra being held with a curfew in place and sought to know if the same could be done in the Nanded case.
But the Maharashtra government said it is not about curfew or barricades and that hundreds of people will come from across the country and crowd control will not be possible.
The Supreme Court then said it is something where the court cannot interfere when the state is saying it is difficult.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines