The Calcutta High Court on Thursday revoked the West Bengal government’s order prohibiting Durga immersions on October 1, the day of Muharram.
The court allowed immersions till 12 am on all days of the Durga Puja festival. It also asked the state police to designate routes for processions for the two occasions, reported ANI.
After hearing three Public Interest Litigations, the court had criticised the state government earlier on Thursday for its “arbitrary use of power” in prohibiting Durga idol immersions on October 1, reported News18.
“There is a difference between regulation and prohibition,” Acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwary told the Mamata Banerjee government. “You are exercising extreme power without any basis. Just because you are the state, you think you can pass an arbitrary order? Only because you dreamed that something will go wrong, you cannot impose restrictions.”
Reacting to the verdict, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “No one can tell me what to do.” She added that she would do what she can to maintain peace.
The chief minister had earlier said that the prohibition on immersion was being imposed to prevent violence between Hindu and Muslim communities. She had warned the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Vishwa Hindu Parishad against resorting to violence.
The petitions had challenged the prohibition order on immersion of Durga idols on October 1. On Thursday, the court said the state must provide concrete grounds for such a restriction.
“You cannot interfere with the faith of the people,” the bench observed according to NDTV. “If a gathering gets violent, first you use water cannons to control the mob, then you use a mild baton charge. You cannot fire first. Prohibition [on immersions] means you are taking last step first.”
On Wednesday, the court had told the state government to not create a “communal distinction” between Hindus and Muslims in West Bengal. “When you are firm there is communal harmony in the state, why are you creating a communal distinction between the two. Let them live together. Do not create lines between them. Let them live in harmony,” it said.