A Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao, Justice Hemant Gupta & Justice Ajay Rastogi heard the case and passed the interim order today.
Keeping in view of the covid-19 pandemic scenario, the supreme court said that the final decision will be taken by the Govt of Maharashtra as to whether the Nanded Gurudwara management can be given permission to conduct a small procession of the Dussehra festival
Further, the Apex Court also asked the Nanded Gurudwara management to submit a request with the Maharashtra Govt. and if it isn’t satisfied with the state government, it can approach the Bombay High Court.
A Supreme Court was hearing a plea filed by Nanded Sikh Gurudwara Committee seeking permission to conduct ‘Dusshera, Takht Isnan, Deepmala & Gurta Gaddi’ event procession because it’s a three centuries-old custom follows by the gurudwara committee with certain conditions.
Earlier, the Maharashtra Government told the SC that allowing the Nanded Gurudwara to hold the Dusshera procession as per custom will not be a “practically feasible option” amid pandemic and thus the state has taken a conscious decision of not allowing religious functions to check the spread of the COVID-19.
The petitioner told the Hon’ble Court that they have reduced the procession route to 1.5 kilometres and added that “We will hold it in the evening so that few people come”.
The Apex court observed that,
“The state is saying there is a health risk, especially with the number of people affected in Nanded. You are saying there will only be 40 to 50 people. In Puri also there was a restriction but many people turned up. Processions are not being allowed now. You can have only 40 or 50 people but what about the people on the road? What if people come?”
Further, the Gurudwara committee said, “We are asking people in the community to not come. We will have a truck on which the Granth Sahib will be kept. We will telecast the proceedings”.
The Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta said that he wants to suggest one thing for the center. ‘The procession is 1.5 km, they could consider holding it between 7-9 am in the morning so that only the persons participating in the ritual are there & passers-by are not involved.’ Moreover, he told the Apex Court that this is not a festival celebrated across Maharashtra state. The restriction is only to Nanded and to a community with small numbers.
Thus, the Apex Court said that ‘if you see the Maharashtra affidavit they have said so many festivals which involved processions have been banned. They have said when Ganesh Chaturthi and other festivals were banned. And, if we allow this procession, then other festivals will also ask for permission.’