Only a day after saying that the Nizamuddin Markaz mosque in Delhi could be declared open in view of Ramzan, the Centre, on Tuesday, 13 April, did a U-turn, informing the Delhi High Court that no religious gathering can be permitted owing to the latest disaster management rules.
These rules are applicable to Delhi alone.
The court is presently hearing a petition filed by the Delhi Waqf Board requesting that people be allowed to pray inside the Markaz in Nizamuddin.
According to Bar and Bench, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on Tuesday, informed a single-judge Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta that as per an order by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), dated 10 April, all social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious/ festival-related and other gatherings and congregations are banned in the capital.
In response to this, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, representing the Waqf Board informed the court that he can submit photographs of Karol Bagh Hanuman Mandir that will show a long queue and absence of social distancing.
Gupta, further, went on to refer to the gatherings taking place at Haridwar, where lakhs of devotees gathered in very large, densely-packed groups amid Maha Kumbh revelry without adherence to COVID protocols, and asked whether the rules of the central government are not applicable there and are only meant for Muslims.
WHAT DID THE COURT SAY?
The court, thereby asked the Centre to file an affidavit indicating how the DDMA guidelines were being implement in all religious places in Delhi, including temples, mosques and churches.
"“The competent authority will file an affidavit indicating as to the manner in which Clause (ii) of the prohibition at Sr.No.1, Annexure-A to the order dated 10th April, 2021, of the DDMA is being implemented and whether religious/festival related and other gatherings and congregations are being permitted to take place or not, including in the temples, mosques, churches etc. in the region of NCT of Delhi.[sic.]”"
The matter will be heard next on Thursday, 15 April, and the permission to the five people nominated to offer Namaz at the mosque will remain unchanged till then. However, the court refused to increase the number of people allowed to offer Namaz at the mosque on Wednesday, the first day of Ramzan.
On Monday, the Delhi High Court had observed that there will be no cap on the entry of devotees at the Nizamuddin Markaz, also known as Banglewali Masjid, when other religious places have no such sanctions, reported The Indian Express.
Noting that religious places are open spaces, without a fixed number of devotees, Justice Mukta Gupta rejected Advocate Rajat Nair’s submission on behalf of the Centre of maintaining a police verified list of 200 persons, of which only 20 will be allowed to enter the premise for prayers, added the report.
The Delhi Waqf Board, represented by senior advocate Ramesh Gupta had submitted that they were willing to follow COVID norms, but it was difficult to compile a list of this sort, as per The Indian Express. They also agreed to the Centre’s submission that a camera be installed in the mosque by Tuesday, 13 April.
Meanwhile, the Waqf Board has also pointed out that while all religious places outside of containment zones were allowed to be opened in Unlock-1, the mosque has remained locked since March last year.
(With inputs from Bar and Bench and The Indian Express.)
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