The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed the Muslim community to observe and perform the rituals of Muharram, but in a truncated manner. The court has ordered the community to take out just one procession and restricted the footfall to a mere five, as against the customary lakhs that would turn out for the event.
A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Madhav Jamdar has further ordered that the videographed transportation of the sacred Tazia (coffin or tomb) of Imam Hussain will take place at only at one place across Maharashtra, which will be in the city.
As per the directives of the bench, the sacred Tazia will be transported in a truck, unlike every year, from Zainabia (Bhendi Bazar) to Byculla Mazgaon Shia cemetery.
The bench was petitioned by the All India Idaara-E-Tahafuz-E-Hussainiyat, through their counsel Asif Naqvi, seeking permission to observe and perform the holy rituals of Muharram. The court had on Thursday ordered the Maharashtra government to decide the representation of the community.
Pursuant to the orders, the state submitted its response to the bench on Friday and agreed to limited permission for performing the rituals.
Having considered the facts, Justice Kathawalla said, "Both the parties have agreed that in view of the limited order that is being passed (by the bench), no reasons in support of this order be recorded, especially since this order is being passed as and by way of as an exception, which is not intended to be used as a precedent by other persons, to seek permissions, to hold any festival or festivities, which would involve by their very nature congregation of people."
The bench accordingly allowed in a "representative capacity" for, and on behalf of the entire Shia community residing in Maharashtra, "only one Tazia, which will be carried from Zainabia (Bhendi Bazar) to Byculla Mazgaon, Shia Cemetery, situated at Mumbai, in the entire state. No other Tazia, will be carried anywhere in the state," the judges ordered.
"Not more than five persons will carry the Tazia on a truck, along with one videographer. However, after bringing down the Tazia near the graveyard, it will be carried on foot, for a distance of not
more than hundred metres. The names, age and addresses of these five persons will be submitted to the Commissioner of Police," the judges ordered.
Apart from these restrictions, the bench further ordered the community to abide by the guidelines, issued by the state government's home department regarding Muharram.
"The state shall also provide an escort as also a pilot car for the truck carrying the Tazia and will take appropriate measures to keep the traffic away and the road clear along the route," Justice Kathawalla ordered.