September 9, 2021 12:36:05 pm
The Madras High Court Wednesday reiterated that the right to life supersedes the right to practice religion while disposing of a petition that challenged Tamil Nadu’s order to ban public celebrations of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in the wake of the Covid-19 situation in the state.
The Bench consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu said that constitutional courts over the last year had repeated that right to life was paramount and “it is only if the person survives that his right to practice his religion is effective.”
“Since the restrictions have been imposed in the public interest and there is no certainty that the pandemic has altogether abated, the impugned notification cannot be interfered with,” the court said.
The court order was passed after a petition was filed by ELA Ganapathi who had challenged a notification issued by the State government banning the installation of Ganesha (Vinayaka) idols in public spaces and taking them out in a procession for immersion in water bodies.
The petitioner wanted the court to permit the installation of Ganesh idols in public places, and processions to immerse idols in nearby waterbodies, while following social distancing norms. However, the court had said that it would not interfere with the State government’s order.
“The impugned notification of August 30, 2021 refers to an order dated August 21, 2020 passed by this court on a batch of petitions and the directions contained therein. The impugned notification has been issued in compliance with the directions contained in the relevant order of this court,” the order read.
Amid the Covid-19 protocols, the state government has denied permission for the installation of idols in public places, processions, and immersion of the idols in water bodies by organisations. People have been requested to celebrate the festival at home. Individuals are allowed to carry the idols and immerse them in water bodies. In Chennai, citizens are not allowed to perform idol immersion on beaches, especially on the stretch between Santhome and Napier Bridge.
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