Former Mumbai BJP youth wing chief Ganesh Pandey has tendered an unconditional apology to the Bombay High Court which had issued a contempt notice to him over an issue related to a ritual during Janmashtami festival in 2015. The HC had last year issued a contempt notice to Pandey for failing to comply with the conditions and restrictions laid down by it for the Dahi Handi festival organised by him in 2015. The notice was issued on a petition filed by activist Swati Patil. During the ritual, organised to celebrate the Janmashtami festival, a human pyramid is built with a person climbing to the top to break a Dahi Handi (pot filled with curd or buttermilk and kept at a height). Pandey, in his affidavit filed in response to the notice, claimed he had not played any active role in organising nine- layer human pyramids during the celebration of the festival that year. "In fact, I kept on telling the Dahi Handi groups (taking part in the event) on microphone that the human pyramids should not exceed five layers. "The pyramids were organised by different Dahi Handi mandals (groups) which never had my consent, connivance and I was in no way responsible for the human pyramids which were formed up to nine layers," Pandey said in his affidavit. After this episode, Pandey, a former Mumbai BJP Yuva Morcha president, decided not to organise the Dahi Handi programme the next year, the affidavit said. "I tender my unconditional apology and pray that the notice issued against me be dismissed," it said. The affidavit was submitted earlier this week before a bench of justices R M Savant and Sadhana Jadhav.
The court, after perusing the affidavit, observed it was hard to believe the pyramids were formed without the encouragement and support of the organisers. The HC has posted the matter for further hearing next week. Apart from Pandey, the petition had sought initiation of contempt proceedings against Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar, who is also the head of the Dahi Handi Samiti set up by the state government in February 2015. The Samiti was set up following a direction from the HC and its mandate was to implement the court's guidelines during the Dahi Handi festivities. The High Court, among other directions, had asked the government to ensure that formation of human pyramids to break Dahi Handis be restricted to only four layers and their height be also reduced. The directions were issued to ensure safety of those taking part in the formation of human pyramids. In the past, several 'Govindas' (as the participants in the Dahi Handi event are known) have received injuries, in some cases even fatal, after falling during formation of human pyramids. Patil, in her petition, has claimed the HC directions were flouted by several mandals across the state and the Samiti had failed in complying with its orders.