Press Trust of India

Opening up places of worship, SC seeks Centre’s reply

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court asked the Centre on Wednesday to respond to a plea seeking opening of all religious places for worship across the country which have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde issued the notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the plea of Ahmedabad-based “Gitarth Ganga Trust” seeking opening of the places of worship in the country.
“We are issuing notice just to explore possibility,” said the bench, which also comprised Jusrices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, in the proceedings held through video conferencing.
The trust, a Religious Research Institute, filed the plea through lawyer Surjendu Sankar Das and said that it wanted to ensure “spiritual happiness” of all by opening of temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras with necessary precautionary conditions in place.
It said the MHA, in its May 30 order on ‘Unlock 1.0’, had allowed opening of religious places outside the containment zones from June 8.
“Many of the state Governments have not passed any order allowing the temples, mosques, churches, Jain temples, gurdwaras, etc. to reopen even after passing of approximately three (3) months after such relaxation for religious places / places of worship by the Central Government,” the plea said.
It said the question which deserved consideration was whether and to what extent the states may set limits on numbers of worshippers participants, when no comparable limitations are imposed on activities like “manufacturing, retail merchandising or liquor stores”.
The plea said it has been filed with the “solemn and pious objective to protect the fundamental rights enshrined and guaranteed under the Articles 14, 19(1)(a) and (b), 25, 26 and 21, in particular, of the residents of India pertaining to opening of the places of worship/ religious places throughout India which have been prohibited/restricted at present by many of the states”. (PTI)


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