Calcutta High Court upholds Durga Puja verdict but relaxes certain guidelines

The Asian Age.  | Rajib Chowdhuri

India, All India

the bench modifies its previous guidelines for the puja committees

A Durga Puja pandal

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday upheld its ban on the visitors' entry to all Durga Puja mandaps in West Bengal to curb the crowding and spread of Covid-19 pandemic, while partially relaxing its norms for the organisers.

Rejecting a review petition by an umbrella body of Durga Puja organisers, Forum for Durgotsob, the division bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee made it clear that "No Entry" order for the visitors would not be changed. 

Hearing arguments of Trinamul Congress MP and the forum's advocate Kalyan Banerjee, the bench however modified its previous guidelines for the puja committees for better management of the five-day-long festival starting from Thursday. 

According to the fresh norms, the number of committee members of a big puja spread across 300 sq meters, who are allowed to be present in the "No Entry Zone" covering the puja mandap daily, has been extended to 60 from 25.

However, only 45 of them can be present at a time there, said Forum for Durgotsob general secretary Shashwata Basu. "It is a partial victory for us," he added. 

In case of a small puja, the maximum number of persons to be present in the "No Entry Zone" has been increased to 30 from the previous head count of 15, Basu informed. 

But only 15 of them will be allowed inside at a time. Organisers of both sizes of puja mandaps will have to display the names at their entrances by 8 am daily. The names can be updated also which was not allowed earlier. The Dhakis, who were kept out of the "No Entry Zone" earlier, have been allowed by the division bench to perform but outside the puja mandaps. 

They will be stationed in a area earmarked for them within the "No Entry Zone." The famous ritual of Sindur Khela, during which the married women paint each other with vermilion before the idol immersion, has been kept out of the "No Entry Zone."