Dismissing a petition against the ban on holding Chhath Puja at public places in the national capital, the Delhi High Court Wednesday said the right to health must be respected first and a person has to live to be able to practice any religion. “While religious sentiments of all sections of the society must be respected, the right to life and health of the public at large cannot be sacrificed at the altar of a right to celebrate a festival, however, significant it may be for a particular community,” the court said.
ALSO READ | Delhi crosses 5 lakh cases, records highest toll
The court passed the order after hearing a petition filed by Shri Durga Jan Seva Trust against an order passed on November 10 by Delhi Disaster Management Authority in which officials have been directed to ensure that Chhath Puja celebration is not allowed at public places, public grounds, river banks and temples this year due to the pandemic.
The petitioner said they have been organising Chhath Puja annually, and that it is a major religious festival celebrated by people from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh and the ban amounts to violating their rights.The petitioner said they have been organising Chhath Puja annually, and that it is a major religious festival celebrated by people from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh and the ban amounts to violating their rights.
Commenting on an argument that the order was coming in the way of right to faith, the division bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad said, “It is rightly coming into the way of every sensible citizen… If it is, it should. If it would not have come in the way, perhaps we may have had to ask questions as to why the Delhi government is not alive to the ground situation.”
It further said there should be no gathering when it can turn it into a super spreader. “Thankfully, now that Delhi government has woken up to the fact that there is a major situation in Delhi… you can’t have this grievance today that you are being treated differently,” added the court.
When the petitioner’s counsel submitted that they are expecting only 1,000 persons to gather, the court quipped, “Today when the Delhi government is deciding not to permit marriages exceeding 50 (guests), you want only 1,000? How come? Only 1,000?”
Meanwhile, as BJP and AAP continue to spar over Chhath celebrations in the city, AAP leader Durgesh Pathak said AAP is willing to hold Chhath puja if BJP gets permission from the Home Minister for celebrations. He pointed out that public celebration of the festival is not allowed in Haryana and Gujarat either.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines