Citing an apex court judgment, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday said that the fundamental right of practising or professing religion did not extend to “any and every place.”
Justices A S Oka and Revati Mohite Dere were hearing a public interest litigation on noise pollution during festivals filed by Dr Mahesh Bedekar who runs a hospital in Thane. The PIL also raises the issue of pandals erected by organisers without requisite permission.
Earlier, the HC had said that those who organised religious and other festivals should not take away the fundamental rights of citizens to silence. The HC had then asked state to provide a redressal mechanism for receiving complaints on noise pollution and directed demolition of temporary booths or platforms erected on roads, without permission.
According to the HC, the government has completely failed to abide by its directions or orders of the Supreme Court which are binding on them.
“The government has taken our directions casually. In the two months after our last order, the government has only notified principal secretaries of various departments. The chief secretary should file an affidavit with names and designation of officials who have breached orders, so that contempt proceedings can be commenced,” said
Observing that municipal commissioners could grant permission for construction of temporary pandals during Ganpati or Navratri Utsav, the court said that such structures should not be erected on roads and pavements.
“According to the order, no citizen can claim fundamental right to worship God or offer prayer at any and every place, unless it is a significant place of worship,” the court said.
The court held that the right to roads kept in reasonable conditions is fundamental and the commissioner was bound to consider that.
The court also directed revenue officers to ask tehsildars to visit places seven days prior to start of festivals and check if any temporary pandals had been erected without permission and inform the commissioner about the same, during major festivals.