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[Chhat Puja] Calcutta High Court Sets Broad Guidelines, Asks State To Strictly Enforce Ban On Crackers [Read Order]

Sparsh Upadhyay
11 Nov 2020 12:31 PM GMT
[Chhat Puja] Calcutta High Court Sets Broad Guidelines, Asks State To Strictly Enforce Ban On Crackers [Read Order]
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The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday (10th November) decided the broad guidelines regarding the Chhat Puja in West Bengal, amid the surging COVID-19 cases.The Bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee also directed the State Government, particularly the police, to leave no stone unturned "to take immediate appropriate steps against anyone seeking to sell or purchase...

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The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday (10th November) decided the broad guidelines regarding the Chhat Puja in West Bengal, amid the surging COVID-19 cases.

The Bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee also directed the State Government, particularly the police, to leave no stone unturned "to take immediate appropriate steps against anyone seeking to sell or purchase firecrackers or the like or any such material which emanates smoke and has the propensity to pollute the air."

Regarding the Chhat Puja, several suggestions were made before the Court. In this context, the Court was of the opinion that it is the executive which ought to devise measures to take care of the myriad situations which may arise.

"It is elementary that the executive would act for the greater good and in public interest and, in such course, there may be a minority which may be adversely affected", noted the Court.

Accordingly, in view of the submission made on behalf of the State, some broad guidelines regarding the Chhat Puja were indicated by the Court:

(i) In the pockets in the State where Chhat Puja is observed, particularly in and around the cities of Kolkata, Siliguri, Durgapur and Asansol, the State should make repeated announcements in the relevant areas requesting no more than two persons per family to attempt to visit any water body this year and for the rest of the family to observe Chhat Puja from home or in and around the home.

(ii) Long-drawn processions should not be allowed and, in any event, the use of music, other than the dhak or small band, should not be allowed. Once the revelry that goes with blaring music is arrested, the processions are expected to be less.

(iii) Persons intending to travel to a water body should come in vehicles upon maintaining the Covid protocol and without jostling with each other to get a toehold in the vehicle. The wearing of masks will be mandatory at all stages.

(iv) Even when a vehicle, which may be a small tempo or lorry or the like comes to a water body or near the same, all persons should not be permitted to alight or go to the water body. Representatives from each vehicle, as may be deemed fit, should be 6 allowed to go to the edge of the water body and perform the rituals in an ecologically friendly manner

As far as Subhas Sarovar and Rabindra Sarobar were concerned, the Court observed that in view of the subsisting order of the National Green Tribunal, "these water bodies will be totally out of bounds for Chhat Puja celebrations."

Further, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the local municipal bodies were directed to depute representatives in the relevant localities for spreading awareness, the need to exercise self-restraint and to observe the Chhat Puja on a low-key. Such measures will have to be undertaken all over the State where Chhat Puja is observed.

Regarding the functioning of local trains, the Court said,

"The State should consider whether it may be in the best interest of all to suspend the operation of local trains on November 14 and November 15, 2020 and on the day of Jagadhatri Puja or to manage the running of trains in such manner that people do not find it convenient to come to the city of Kolkata or travel to other places of interest on Kali Puja day or visit 7 Chandannagar on Jagadhatri Puja day. The State is left free to make appropriate arrangements with the railway authorities in such regard.."

Further, the Court directed the Kolkata Police and the State police to put up telephone numbers on their websites and on hoardings and boards prominently displayed across the city and the State, indicating effective numbers where complaints regarding the bursting of crackers may be made.

Apart from that, the Court also observed that in the event the State finds any difficulty in controlling crowds or in the implementation of this order, "the State is reminded of the authority at its disposal including the power under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to restrict the number of persons in any particular area."

Lastly, the Court said,

"Indeed, it is hoped that the entire State machinery is geared up to implement the orders passed in such regard for the greater good of the citizens and to ensure that the quality of air is not adversely affected by the acts of a few that may imperil lives"

Case title - Anasua Bhattacharya v. State of West Bengal & Ors. and other connected Writ Petitions

Click Here To Download Order

[Read Order]



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