Plea in Bombay HC seeks equitable treatment towards Ganpati mandals during immersion process in Pune

There are five ‘manache’ (traditionally honored) Ganpati mandals in Pune which have been dictating terms to smaller mandals for years outside the purview of the law

Representative image
Representative image
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Nadeem Inamdar/Pune

The president of Pune Badhai Samaj Trust, Sanjay Badhai, has filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking directions to the city administration to allow all small Ganpati mandal processions to be taken out before the manache (traditionally honored) Ganpatis are taken out on the day of immersion.

There are five such manache Ganpati mandals in Pune which have been dictating terms to smaller mandals for years outside the purview of the law.

The petitioner prayed before the court that it may set a time limit within which the five manache Ganpati mandals, who put up huge idols which end up holding up other immersions, should complete their procession on Anant Chaturdashi.

Alternatively, the plea says, the court may pass orders that the said five mandals should allow other mandals to conduct the immersion process on a first come first serve basis to avoid unnecessary delay.

“Any tradition which discriminates between one another is liable to be struck down and discarded permanently and the court may be pleased to pass such an order. Kindly direct the Pune Police to keep a check on the limit for the loudspeakers and noise pollution levels during all festivals that have processions and register offences,” Badhai, represented by Asim Sarode, a prominent activist and human rights lawyer, prayed before the court.

He requested the court to issue an order and make a rule regarding non-discrimination in the immersion procession not just for this year but for all the following years too.

The petitioner stated, “The reputed mandals have created their own rules that the first five mandals start the immersion procession first and only then other mandals are allowed to have their procession from the Laxmi Road. There is no law to decide this chronology of mandals immersing the Ganpati; it’s just the tradition which is being followed by them. If some other small mandals wish to immerse first, they cannot do so because of the tradition and its unofficial pressure created by the five respected Ganpati mandals.”

“Presently, the procession for immersion goes on till next day and this can be avoided if the smaller mandals are either given an opportunity to go ahead of the five mandals or there should be a time set for the five mandals to complete their procession and immersion,” he added.

Pune Badhai Samaj Trust was established in 1893 by Lokmanya Tilak and is celebrating its 130th year of existence.

At present, because the smaller mandals are not allowed to precede the five big mandals, they have to wait and use the Laxmi Road late in the night, which often sees the police levying petty cases for noise pollution or breaching rules against them.

These smaller mandals also aspire to do the immersion procession with dhol tasha as is done by most mandals.

Incidentally, social worker Sanjay Digambar Balgude had filed an application under the RTI Act on March 4, 2022 with Assistant Police Commissioner, Faraskhana Division, Pune. He posed the question whether there is any law or rule mentioning that only five reputed Ganpati mandals will start immersion procession on Laxmi Road and unless they start the immersion procession, no other Ganpati mandal is allowed to start the procession on Laxmi Road.

In response, the ACP said that no such information was available regarding the existence of any such rule or law.

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