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When right to life is threatened, right to practice religion can take a backseat: Madras HC

The court was disposing of a PIL petition praying for a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to reopen all places of worship in the state, without any restriction.

At the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam temple on Venkatanarayana Road in T Nagar, Chennai (Express file photo)

The right to practice religion can take a backseat when right to life is under threat, the Madras High Court said on Friday.

“The right to practice religion is certainly subservient to the right to life and when the right to life is threatened, the right to practice religion can only take a backseat,” the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said.

The court cannot interfere in such matters unless it finds that the state’s action is utterly arbitrary or completely without basis, the bench added.

The court was disposing of a PIL petition praying for a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to reopen all places of worship in the state, without any restriction, which had been originally closed due to the lockdown arising out of Covid-19 pandemic.

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The state government, however, had ordered reopening of temples from June 28, subject to certain Covid-19 safety restrictions.

The court pointed out that the State had obtained the advice of experts and considered various factors including crowding at places of worship and hence, continued with the restrictions.

The bench also disposed of another PIL petition seeking to resume regular bus services after holding that it is for the State government and not the court to take a call on the issue.

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The second wave of the pandemic is not yet over and there is also a risk of a third wave, the judges pointed out.

First published on: 02-07-2021 at 20:01 IST
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