Orissa HC Refuses To Interfere In Govt Festive Guidelines

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court on Friday rejected the petition filed by Cuttack’s Balu Bazar Puja Committee, seeking relaxation in restrictions imposed on the height of Durga idol.

The committee had sought permission to come up with an idol having a traditional height of 5 ft 2” for Durga puja this year. The state government has restricted the maximum height to 4ft for community pujas in view of a possible third wave of the COVID pandemic.

The court, however, refused to interfere with August 9 guidelines for observing religious festivals.

On Thursday, the division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice BP Routray had closed the hearing after listening to the arguments of senior advocate Pitambar Acharya, who appeared on behalf of the puja committee, and submissions of State counsel DK Mohanty.

While Acharya argued that the height of the idol of Goddess Durga has nothing to do with the spread of COVID, Mohanty submitted that the maximum height of 4ft for the Durga idol is a statewide restriction and Balu Bazar Committee cannot be treated as an exception.

The state counsel further clarified that the HC had last year allowed nine puja committees to complete the idols that were more than four ft in height since they had already started making them. “The notification regarding the four ft height restriction has been issued well ahead of the making of idols this year,” he added.

Notably, the HC had relaxed the 4ft height norm for nine puja mandaps – Sikharpur (52), Nuabazar ( 52), College Square (49), Alisha Bazar ( 6), Balu Bazar (5), Manglabag (7), Upper Telenga Bazar (8), Firingi Bazar (8) and Kazi Bazar (5)- last year.

Meanwhile, the meeting between Shanti and Puja Committees has remained inconclusive. “We are awaiting HC decision in this regard. If HC doesn’t give a nod then another meeting will be convened to decide the future course of action” Mahanagar Shanti Committee president Debendra Sahu had said earlier in the day.

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