Human pyramids can’t go beyond 20 feet in Dahi Handi: SC

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New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that human pyramids can’t go beyond 20 feet during the Dahi Handi festival on Krishna Janmashtami, as it rejected a last ditch attempt by a group to get over the restriction.

Declining the plea by a trust seeking modification of an August 17 order, Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice L. Nageswara Rao said: “In the last hearing we have asked the state how it was going to regulate the large number of Dahi Handi events in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra.”

As senior counsel Rajiv Dutta, appearing for the Trust, sought to assure the bench on the safety of the participants in the human pyramid, the bench observed: “You can’t give assurance (on safety) on behalf of all the 1,500 sansthans organising Dahi Handi festival.”

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The top court had on August 17 barred teenagers below the age of 18 from taking part in a human pyramid while fixing its height to a maximum of 20 feet.

Appearing for the Maharashtra government and stating that he was not supporting the applicant Trust, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench: “If height is fixed, then this sport (Dahi Handi) will lose meaning.”

The applicant Trust, counsel Dutta said, was an old hand in organising the Dahi Handi festival and they have a record of human pyramid of 43.79 feet recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.

Telling the court that though Dahi Handi festival had religious connotations associated with Lord Krishna, Dutta said that now it has attained the “flavour of sport”.

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“There are sentiments attached to it. People prepare for it (competition),” he told the bench.

Justice Lalit, who hails from Mumbai, said about 25 to 30 years back human pyramids used to have four to five layers as buildings were four to five storeys high. But now they have become 20 storeys and more.

Pointing to the competitive spirit that runs through organisations holding Dahi Handi festival, Dutta told the court that once the height of human pyramid was fixed at 20 feet, then “everybody will do it”.

He said that 1,500 sansthans organising Dahi Handi were looking at the Supreme Court for its nod to increase the height of the human pyramid.

However, counsel for PIL petitioner before the Bombay High Court Swati Sayaji Patil read out the number of cases reported by government hospitals of people getting injured when pyramids came down crashing. Some people suffered serious injuries.

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It was on the public interest litigation of Patil — secretary of NGO Utkarsh Mahila Samajik Sanstha — that the High Court had passed a number of directions on August 11, 2014 which included that no one below the age of 18 years can participate in the formation of human pyramid and the same would not be more than 20 feet in height.



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