The Bombay High Court on Tuesday permitted procession and rituals to be taken out by the Shia Muslim community for Muharram, but with certain conditions in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. A division bench of Justices K K Tated and P K Chavan said in addition to compliance of Covid-19 protocols, the procession, scheduled to be held for three hours on August 20, will have to be limited to seven trucks with 15 persons in each vehicle.
The court further stated that only people who have taken both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and have completed 14 days since the last dose, will be permitted on the trucks. Five Taziyas will be allowed to be taken. Of 105 persons, only 25 will be allowed to go inside the cemetery, the court said.
The order was passed on a petition filed by city-based NGO All India Idara Tahfaz-e-Hussainiyat that sought permission from the court to take out processions and perform rituals during Muharram, as the Maharashtra government has relaxed the conditions imposed in the city. The petitioner sought permission for 1,000 people to participate in the procession from August 18 to 20 for two hours each day.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Rajendra Shirodkar informed the court that taking out a Taziya, which is a replica of a mausoleum of Imam Husain, and setting up Sabeels, stalls for food and water, was an intrinsic part of the Shia faith, without which Muharram rituals would be incomplete. Government pleader Purnima Kantharia, however, opposed the petition, and argued that controlling a crowd, especially in a religious procession, becomes difficult.
When the court pointed out that there had been significant relaxations with hotels, malls and shops being allowed to open, Kantharia said those had come step by step. The bench, while permitting the procession, suggested that the petitioner ensure that each truck has some senior member of the community to keep the crowd under control and to make sure people are following the Covid-19 protocols.