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Can't Allow Ganpati Festival in Maharashtra This Year as it Involves Uncontrollable Crowds: SC

The 10-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi will begin on August 22.

The 10-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi will begin on August 22.

Maharashtra government opposed the plea, saying this would lead to a pandora's box and unmanageable situations where every community will come to the court with this order to get an approval for their festivals.

The Supreme Court on Friday said it is not inclined to permit festivities during Ganpati festival in Maharashtra this year as the crowd becomes uncontrollable.

Citing the pandemic, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde maintained that Ganesh Chaturthi festivities, by their very nature, involve large crowds.

"We are not inclined to allow Ganapati festivals since that is completely uncontrollable," remarked the CJI.

The court was hearing a matter related to opening of certain Jain temples in Mumbai for Paryushan -- the annual purification rituals for the community.

Maharashtra government opposed the plea, saying this would lead to a pandora's box and unmanageable situations where every community will come to the court with this order to get an approval for their festivals respectively.

Senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi specifically cited Ganesh Chaturthi festivities in Maharashtra to say that Justice Bobde, hailing from the same state, can imagine if permission was sought for this as well.

At this, the bench clarified that Ganapati festivals would stand at a completely different footing.

The bench allowed opening of three Jain temples — in Dadar, Chembur and Byculla — upon strict adherence to the SOP and on some additional conditions such as only five persons will be allowed at one time in these temples.

At the same time, the top court made it clear that this order will not be a precedent and cannot be used in any other case.

"Our order isn't intended to apply in any other case, particularly which involves congregation of people which by their very nature, cannot be controlled. We are referring in particular to the congregation that takes place at Ganesh Chaturthi, etc. That will be decided by the state government on its own merit," said the court in its order.

Ganapati is one of the most revered festivals in Maharashtra. It will begin on Saturday with installation of Ganesha idols and will end after ten days if grand festivities.

The state government has also said it will not allow any large gatherings and pandals this year. The Supreme Court order apparently forecloses any possibility of judicial review of the state's mandate.