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Plea in Delhi HC seeks relaxation for Christmas prayer congregations

The petition, which seeks permission for holding worship services in churches for Christmas and New Year, is likely to come up for hearing on Friday.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: December 24, 2021 1:43:29 am
The petition further states that chapels and churches had remained closed for more than two years and have now opened fully only now under the impression that the eve of Christmas would serve as a new beginning.

A day after the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) announced a ban on Christmas and New Year-related gatherings and congregations in the national capital, a petition was filed before the Delhi High Court on Thursday challenging the prohibition.

The petition, which seeks permission for holding worship services in churches for Christmas and New Year, is likely to come up for hearing on Friday.

The petition filed by Kamlesh Jacob and Jacob Oommen argues that the authorities have permitted bars, restaurants, and auditoriums to function with 50% capacity and theaters with 100% capacity but “completely barred religious gatherings”, in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution as well as the right to freedom of religion.

“All ardent devotees of Christianity who have been undergoing lent season for the last 25 days have been prohibited in Delhi from attending chapel masses on the eve of Christmas but the citizens are allowed to have gala dinners and commercial activities and shopping etc on Christmas. The selective exclusion of religious places of worship is in violation to Constitutional principles,” argues the plea filed through advocate Manoj V George and others.

The DDMA, in an order on Thursday, said that since all social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, festival-related gatherings and congregations are completely prohibited, the District Magistrates and DCPs shall ensure that no cultural events, gatherings, congregations take place for celebrating Christmas or New Year in NCT of Delhi.

Stating that Christmas is the only festival celebrated by Christians across all states in India, the petition contends that it ought to be permitted in Delhi subject to compliance of Covid protocols as enumerated for restaurants, bars, auditoriums, and theaters. The petition further states that chapels and churches had remained closed for more than two years and have now opened fully only now under the impression that the eve of Christmas would serve as a new beginning.

“It is emphasised that Christians across the NCT have been served with Christmas invites and arrangements from their respective churches after two years, and that curbing their right to attend Christmas masses on the pretext of a Christmas gathering would be violative of Article 25 & 26 of the Constitution,” reads the petition.

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