Ensure no child takes part in Muharram: Bombay High Court

Mumbai: Voicing concern for the security of children participating in Muharram processions taken out by the Shia community, the Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Mumbai Police to convene a meeting with religious leaders of the community. The HC held that this meeting would be to ensure that no child participates in the processions.

A Division Bench of Justice Rajendra Savant and Justice Sadhana Jadhav heard a suo moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that highlighted the severe injuries sustained by children who took part in the processions.

Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Prajakta Shinde tendered an affidavit of the Mumbai Police which cited a circular directing divisional officials to hold meetings with religious leaders. The circular also directed officials and the community leaders to ensure no child participates in the procession and that no sharp weapons are used in it.

After perusing the affidavit, the judges held that if the community leaders themselves ensure that no child participates in the processions, then there would be no requirement of the police to keep an eye on the annual ritual.

The judges said, “This court had earlier left this issue on the wisdom of the community leaders; however there has been no positive result. We direct the Additional Commissioner of Police, south region to convene a meeting with the community leaders and chalk-out a course of action to see to it that no child participates in the ritual.

“We may clarify that this direction is issued in view of the Muharram ritual that shall take place in the month of September. We also direct the police official to submit a report before us on the next date of hearing as we want to regulate this as there are offences registered in the past,” the judges added.

Though the procession is carried out all over the country, the court ruling in Mumbai might set an example that may be replicated in other places. Muharram is the commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain’s martyrdom at Karbala by the Shia community. With this, the mourning on first 10 days of the month of Muharram ended, but Shias will shun all kinds of celebrations, including weddings and birthdays, for next 40 days.

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