The Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government to clarify the grounds for classifying ‘Dahi Handi’ as an adventure sport in 2015 and permitting minors to participate in the festival.
A division bench of Justices R M Savant and Sadhana Jadhav raised the query while hearing a petition seeking contempt action against BJP leader Ashish Shelar and others for flouting conditions and restrictions laid down by the high court for the Dahi Handi festival in 2015.
Apart from Shelar, the petition also sought contempt action against former Mumbai BJP’s youth wing president Ganesh Pandey and the then principal secretary of the state government
The petitioner informed the bench that after the high court laid down the restrictions in its order in 2015, the state government issued a resolution on August 11 the same year declaring Dahi Handi as an adventure sport.
In its 2015 order, the high court had said the human pyramids formed during the festival shall not exceed the height of 20 feet and no minor shall be permitted to participate in its formation.
Under the resolution, the government permitted minors above the age of 11 years to participate in the festival but with a letter from their parents.
Referring to the resolution, Justice Jadhav today said, “Is Dahi Handi an adventure sport? Are our orders being flouted under the garb of it being an adventure sport? How can minors take part in such adventure sports? Explain it to us.”
The bench directed the government to respond to its queries and posted the matter for further hearing on August 4.
The court also noted that political leaders like Ashish Shelar, who is head of the Dahi Handi Samiti set up by the state government in February 2015, should abstain from organising or even attending such festivals where court orders are being flouted.
The Samiti was set up following a direction from the HC and its mandate was to implement the court’s guidelines during the Dahi Handi festivities.