THE Bombay High Court Wednesday refused to allow the offering of prayer and Taraweeh namaz in a mosque in Mumbai.
A bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and VG Bisht said the offering of prayers only in the mosque as sought by the petitioner could not be considered, in view of the ongoing critical covid situation which is serious in nature.
The bench was ruling on a petition filed by Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust seeking permission to offer namaz inside a mosque during a month-long festival of Ramzan.
Advocate for the Trust contended that the mosque was spread over 1 acre and it was quite spacious to follow all the SOP’s meant to break the chain of Covid. It was also contended that offering prayer in the congregation was considered to have more social and spiritual benefit than praying by oneself.
Petitioner also cited the Delhi High Court’s order allowing the petitioners before it to offer prayers during the month of Ramazan subject to various conditions.
The state government, on the other hand, opposed the petition and said “in Maharashtra, there were more than 65000 COVID cases whereas in Mumbai there were more than 11000 active COVID cases.” It was also contended by the government that its restriction on religious places applies to the members of all the Community and following whichever religion they follow.
Agreeing with the government, the Court opined that restrictions imposed by the State Government had been imposed after considering the prevailing circumstances and various other pros and cons.
It added while religious sentiments of all sections of the society must be respected, the right to life and health of the public at large could not be sacrificed at the altar of a right to celebrate a festival, however, significant it may be for a particular community.
It also refused to follow the Delhi High Court’s order and opined it could be considered as a precedent.
“Considering the prevailing situation and the ground reality prevailing in the State of Maharashtra, we cannot permit the petitioner to perform any prayers in the said mosque in violation of the order dated 13th April, 2013 issued by the Government of Maharashtra which is issued in public interest and for safety of all the residents of Maharashtra”, the Court held.
The article was originally published in The Leaflet.