The Bombay high court (HC) has directed the state government to hear a plea by the representatives of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP) who sought permission to hold a prayer meeting for its members at the Dongarwadi Tower of Silence at Kemps Corner.
After the state submitted that it could only allow one such prayer meeting across Maharashtra for the entire community, the court directed the panchayat to consider the same, and meet Amitabh Gupta, principal secretary home (special) and Kishor Raje Nimbalkar, secretary, disaster management department at Mantralaya on Monday evening. The court also directed the state to submit the decision of the two officers by Wednesday.
A division bench of justice RD Dhanuka and justice Madhav Jamdar while hearing the petition filed by Viraf Mehta, a trustee of BPP was informed by advocate Prakash Shah that the panchayat representing its Mumbai members had approached the court seeking permission to hold special prayers for the departed souls at the Dongerwadi Tower of Silence at Kemps Corner.
Shah submitted that the premise was spread over 55 acres and has five separate pavilions where members of the community wanted to come and pray for the souls of their departed loved ones on Farvardin Roj on September 3. Shah submitted that the panchayat would ensure that all social distancing norms would be followed, hence the state should be directed to grant permission for allowing the around 500 members of the community to conduct prayers between 7.30am and 4.30pm on the day.
However, advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni objected to the petition and said that if the petition was only meant for one Tower of Silence then the state was opposed to it. He, however, added that if the petition was representative of all Towers of Silence across Maharashtra, the state was willing to consider the application in the same way as it had considered the applications of the Jain and Muslim community for Paryushan and Moharram respectively.
Though Shah submitted that the BPP was only seeking permission for Doongerwadi at Kemps Corner, the court directed the officials at Mantralaya to give the representatives of BPP a hearing on Monday evening and submit its report to the court on Wednesday when the petition would be decided.