A Writ Petition was filed by The Takht Sachkand Shri Hazur Apchalnagar Sahib Board, Nanded assailing an order dated 21st October 2020 passed by the Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA). The court allowed the plea of the Petitioners after imposing certain conditions.
The Takht Sachkand Shri Hazur Apchalnagar Sahib Board, Nander (“Petitioner”) filed a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay HC against an order dated 21st October 2020 passed by the SDMA (“the impugned order”). In the impugned order, the SDMA rejected the Petitioner’s request to conduct the Takhat Isnan, Dipmala Mahalla, Gurta Gaddi Kirtan, and Gurta-Gaddi Sampathi Kirtan Darbar Nagar Kirtan – a three-century-old Dussehra procession in Nanded. The Sikh Community thus sought relief against the aforesaid impugned order.
The Petitioner agreed to conduct the event in a restricted manner in light of which the Counsel for State Mr Kamat & the Advocate General appeared for the matter. The Court stated that both parties agreed that given the limited order being passed, submissions of the parties & reasons adduced need not be recorded. The Court highlighted that the present Order was being passed by way of an exception and must not be used as a Precedent by other persons seeking similar permissions involving the congregation of people.
In light of the abovementioned, the Court agreed to allow the Sikh Community to conduct the Takhat Isnan, Dipmala Mahalla, Gurta Gaddi Kirtan and Gurta-Gaddi Sampathi Kirtan Darbar Nagar Kirtan procession on Dussehra in Nanded after observing compliance with several conditions.
Firstly, the Petitioner was allowed to carry – one Palkhi Sahib with Hon’ble Shri Guru Granth Sahibji; A total of sixteen Historical Nishan Sahib; A maximum of five horses of Guru Sahib; and Three Kirthan Jathe on two large open trucks. A maximum of sixteen persons would be allowed to board one truck & a maximum of eight persons would board the other. The procession should be for a distance of 1.5 km as requested by the Petitioner and the route for the same was to be given by the authorities on 24th October 2020.
Secondly, the Petitioner was mandated to get Covid-19 tests performed for all persons who wished to board the trucks. Only persons who tested negative for Covid-19 were to be allowed to board the trucks. The aforesaid open trucks were to be accompanied by a pilot car and the escort car of the Police Department.
Thirdly, the Petitioner was ordered to video record the entire event from the commencement to the culmination.
Fourthly, a responsible officer – preferably Secretary of the Petitioner was ordered to submit an undertaking to the Respondent authorities that he shall supervise the entire proceedings and ensure that no violation of conditions imposed took place. The Secretary was also to be responsible for the proceedings to be conducted in compliance with the permissions granted.
Fifthly, the Court stated that no person was allowed to accompany the two open trucks on foot. The Court stated that the time for the proceedings was from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm.
The Division Bench of Justice S. V. Gangapurwala and Justice Shrikant D. Kulkarni proceeded to dispose of the petition with no order as to costs.
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