Taking a different view from an earlier order, a division bench of the Bombay High Court on Monday accepted the state government’s decision to keep the age limit for Govindas at 14 years and removed the height restriction that was imposed by a 2014 judgment.
A bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice MS Karnik observed that the decision to fix the height of human pyramids at the festival and the age of participants was exclusively of the legislature.
This matter came up after Supreme Court directed the high court to hear the plea by the Maharashtra government challenging the 2014 judgment, afresh in wake of new material furnished by the state government, several NGOs and individuals.
Due to the growing number of accidents as a result of these human pyramids, the court had restricted the height to 20 feet and age limit was 18.
However, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that several steps have been taken to ensure safety and security at the festival. Drones will be used to monitor the safety at the festival and unnecessary crowd will be avoided.
One of the petitioners in the matter, Swati Patil, had contended that after the restrictions were imposed in 2014, there was a reduction of 78% in deaths due to accidents. Stating that it is the duty of the state to ensure safety and security of its people, court said accidents can happen anywhere: “People may die taking selfies, but that does not mean it should be banned.”
The state will now submit an undertaking detailing all steps that have been proposed and submitted before the court, and will also take a decision regarding the new height cap.