Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to grant permission to Jama Masjid Mosque Trust to allow people to offer Namaz at the mosque in South Mumbai during the period of Ramadan. The bench cited the reason that COVID-situation was serious and critical and the safety of citizens was more important.
The matter was heard by a vacation bench of Justice R D Dhanuka and Justice V G Bisht. The High Court observed that Maharashtra government found it expedient to impose restrictions to break the transmission of coronavirus.
“The right to celebrate or follow a religious practice is important, but what is more paramount and of importance is public order and the safety of citizens,” the bench said.
The petition was filed by Jama Masjid Mosque Trust seeking permission to allow the people of the Muslim community to offer prayers five times a day at the mosque in South Mumbai during the period of Ramadan.
In the petition, it was mentioned that the mosque is spread over an acre and almost 7000 can assemble there. Keeping the Covid situation in consideration, the petitioner had proposed that only 50 persons would be allowed at a time to offer prayers during the Ramadan period and all safety precautions would be followed.
Additional Government Pleader Jyoti Chavan, representing the State government, argued that the Covid situation in Mumbai and Maharashtra is alarming.
She further submitted, “We cannot make an exception to any religion, especially in this 15-day period. We cannot take a risk at this stage and all citizens should cooperate. The government was not prohibiting any person from practising his/her religion, but they should do it in their homes.”
The bench said that the restrictions imposed by the government are in the public interest and for the safety of all residents of Maharashtra.
The vacation bench pointed out that several courts have already denied permission to allow many religious congregations in view of the Covid-19 situation.
Facing the grim of Covid-19 second wave, the Maharashtra government announced certain restrictions for the next 15 days. All religious places and malls will remain shut under the restrictions. The restrictions will come into effect from 8 pm on Wednesday and will remain in force till 7 am on May 1. Section 144 will be effective during that period.