HC tells Maharashtra to seek SC view on pyramid height in Dahi Handi

The Bombay High Court on Friday asked Maharashtra Government to get a clarification from the Supreme Court on its order regarding the height of human pyramids for the Dahi Handi celebrations in the state.

The issue cropped up on a contempt petition filed by city-based social worker Swati Patil, who is the secretary of Utkarsh Mahila Samajik Sanstha, an NGO.

Patil alleged that Maharashtra Government and others were not following earlier orders of the Bombay High Court on the height of human pyramids during Dahi Handi celebrations.

The High Court, on August 11, 2014, while hearing a petition filed by Patil, had ordered that the height of human pyramids should not exceed 20 feet and that children below the age of 18 years should not be allowed to participate in Dahi Handi functions.

The state government challenged the Bombay High Court order in the Supreme Court which initially suspended the high court order and later dismissed the petition. According to the state government, the apex court did not express any opinion on the restriction imposed by the high court on the height of human pyramids. Hence, they were not bound by the earlier order of the High Court.

The High Court, however, was of the opinion that its earlier order would be in force unless it had been set aside by a higher court. Therefore, it asked the state government to get clarification from the Supreme Court about the same as the apex court order was silent on this aspect.

Patil's contempt petition, currently being heard by the Bombay High Court, also challenged a Dahi Handi function organised by Ganesh Pande, former head of BJP Yuva Morcha, in the city last year, saying the height of the human pyramid was above 20 feet and hence it violated the earlier court order. Patil alleged that the function was backed by Ashish Shelar, MLA and President of BJP's Mumbai unit.

A bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka on Friday issued show cause notice to Pande who had organised the function. The notice is returnable on July 29.

Shelar, who is a respondent, contended that he had merely attended the function as the chief guest and that he had nothing to do with organising the celebrations.

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