MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday permitted a Muharram procession in Mumbai on Sunday only on one route, by truck from Bhendi Bazar to the graveyard at Mazgaon. For the last 100 metres, five persons can carry the Taziya – a replica of the Mausoleum of Imam Hussain – on foot in a procession, said a bench of justices SJ Kathawalla and Madhav Jamdar. A videographer will also be allowed to be present. The procession will be on Sunday from 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm.
On Thursday, the HC bench had directed the state home and disaster management departments to give a hearing to representatives of All India Idaara Tahafuz-E- Hussainiyat for permission to hold a Muharram procession this year with suitable restrictions in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and partial lockdown still in force.
Habib Nasir, secretary of a large NGO which organises the Moharrum processions, and had petitioned the HC, gave an undertaking that it will abide by all conditions and there will not be more than four persons to carry the Taziya and one video-grapher.
The police will impose a section 144 Criminal procedure Code (CrPC) order to prevent assembly of more than five in the area and will also provide an escort and a pilot car for the truck and ensure traffic is not affected.
The state had denied them permission, said senior counsel Rajendra Shirodkar along with advocates Asif and Shehzad Naqvi, prompting them to approach the HC to intervene. “If limited permissions were issued for Ganesh Chaturthi, then refusing permissions for Moharrum would be discriminatory,” the bench had orally observed while “Amitabh Gupta, Principal Secretary, Home Department and Kishor Raje Nimbalkar, Secretary, Disaster Management Department shall hear Arshad Kasim Mirza and Habib Nasir, President and General Secretary respectively” of the NGO.
The petition said permission be given on the basis of conditional permission granted for Ganesh visarjans in artificial ponds.
The petition, challenged the guidelines of August 19 issued by the state to deny permission for the mourning processions, alleging it was in violation to right to equality.
The HC on Friday also heard Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni with government pleader Purnima Kantharia and minutes of the order were finalised, with both sides agreeing that it was an order “by way of an exception and not intended to serve as a precedent, for others to seek permission to hold any festivals which would involve…congregation of people.”
Advocate Shezad Naqvi said, “we are happy with the order. It allows us a symbolic performance of the 1400 year old ritual and members of the community can watch it live because it will broadcast live on various online platforms.
Muharram is an Islamic Calendar month which is marked by mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, who was the grandson of Prophet Mohammed and the 3rd Imam of Shia Muslims and is practiced since 1400 years,’’ said Naqvi.