Children below 12 not permitted to participate in Dahi Handi: Supreme Court

New Delhi, Aug 14: No child below the age of 12 years will be permitted to participate in forming human pyramids during the popular ‘Dahi Handi‘ festival, the Supreme Court directed today while keeping on hold a Bombay High Court order which barred participation of children under 18.

The apex court also said that state authorities should ensure that the festival be allowed subject to the condition that the organisers follow all guidelines containing safety measures, recommended by Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, are followed.

The Dahi Handi ceremony is held on Janmasthami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, every year. It involves forming a human pyramid and breaking an earthen pot filled with buttermilk which is tied at a height. It is popular in Maharashtra. While passing the interim order, a bench comprising Chief Justice R M Lodha, justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman issued notice to the Maharashtra Government and concerned authorities, seeking their replies within eight weeks on a petition challenging the August 11 order of the Bombay High Court.

Organisers of the festival had approached the apex court challenging the high court’s order banning participation of children below 18 years in forming human pyramids during the ‘Dahi Handi’ festival. The high court had cited fatal accidents during the celebrations and had directed the Maharashtra government to restrict the height of human pyramids to 20 ft.

The court’s directions had come while hearing various public interest litigations including that of a social worker. Issuing various directions to ensure safety of the ‘Govindas’, the high court had asked the organisers to give due importance to the health and safety of the participants in the festival scheduled on August 18.