Cal HC | Durga Puja Regulations declaring Pandals to be made no entry zone for public, partially eased [Read Directions]

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Arijit Banerjee and Sanjib Banerjee, JJ., modified its earlier Order dated 19-10-2020, wherein it was held that, Durga Puja Pandals to be made no-entry zone for members of public.

Durga Puja Organisers filed applications for modification of the Order dated 19-10-2020. In effect, some of the strict rules put into place by such order are sought to be relaxed.

On a direct query from the court as to whether the State has challenged the order dated October 19, 2020, passed in the present proceedings, State indicated that no petition for special leave to appeal had been filed before the Supreme Court.

Bench stated that upon consideration of the submission made on behalf of the applicants and the parties and upon considering the effect of the order dated October 19, 2020, Court felt that such order is required to be modified only in respect of the following:-

(i) Dhakis may be permitted, not within the pandal area but in the no-entry zone immediately beyond the pandals. For all other purposes such no entry zone has to be kept completely empty and the only exception that is made is for a reasonable number of dhakis to be allowed to play in such an enclosed place. It is made clear that the dhakis should wear masks and maintain proper hygiene and distancing norms;

(ii) Directions as to the fixed charts referred to in the order of October 19, 2020 stand modified and the charts will now be fixed for the day. Such charts must be put up by 8 a.m. and, in case of smaller pujas, may include upto 20 names, but not more than 15 persons in case of smaller pujas should get access to the pandals at any given point of time. At the highest end, the charts may include upto 60 names, but at no point of time should the number of persons present within the pandals or the covered area be more than 45. The norms for the highest-end pandals would only apply to pujas where the pandals cover an area in excess of 300 sq. metre excluding the dais on which the idols are placed.

It will be permissible for the dhakis to be inside the pandal, but in such event, the number of other persons simultaneously allowed inside the pandal will stand reduced so that the maximum number of persons as permitted by the present order is not exceeded.

No further modification was thought appropriate so that the effect of the order was not diluted. [Ajay Kumar De v. State of W.B.,  2020 SCC OnLine Cal 1995, decided on 21-10-2020]

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