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Thursday, October 01, 2020

Citing Covid, SC says no to Muharram processions

The bench said if it grants the relief for the whole country, “there will be chaos” and “a whole community may be targeted for spreading” Covid-19. “We don’t want that.”

Written by Ananthakrishnan G | New Delhi | Updated: August 28, 2020 2:02:04 am
Shias mourn Muharram to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, who was killed in the Battle of Karbala. (Express photo: Shashi Ghosh)

The Supreme Court Thursday declined to grant permission for Muharram processions across the country, and said it did not want a situation where “a whole community may be targeted for spreading” the coronavirus.

Hearing a PIL filed by Lucknow-based Shia cleric Syed Kalbe Jawad, the bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said: “The difficulty is you are asking for a general order for the occasion in the whole country.” Read this article in Malayalam

The bench said if it grants the relief for the whole country, “there will be chaos” and “a whole community may be targeted for spreading” Covid-19. “We don’t want that.”

The petitioner’s counsel, Azim H Laskar, reminded the bench about the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the Rath Yatra at the Jagannath temple in Puri, and rituals at three Jain temples in Mumbai.

CJI Bobde said these two cases were different since there were “identifiable areas of access”. In the case of Puri, the bench said, “it was in one place and one set route. We could assess the risk and pass the order for only Puri”.

Both matters, the bench said, involved “limited prayers” and pointed out that it had not granted permission for the Ganesh festival congregation.

“We as a Court cannot risk the health of all the people. If you had asked for one particular place, we could have assessed the risk,” the CJI said. The bench also pointed out that no state had been made party in the PIL. It allowed the petitioner, who is based in Lucknow, to approach the Allahabad High Court for permission allowing the event in Lucknow.

“Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner prays for withdrawal of this petition with liberty to approach the Allahabad High Court. Prayer is allowed. Accordingly, the writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn with the liberty aforesaid,” the bench said in its order.

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