Gatherings at Mosque stands restricted to 50, in view of COVID restrictions: Delhi High Court

  • Pankaj Bajpai
  • 04:36 PM, 15 Apr 2021

The Delhi High Court has allowed restricted offering of namaz as per SOP Guidelines, noting that the Petitioner had made a prima facie case. 

The Single Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta directed the SHO, Nizamuddin Area, to permit fifty people to offer namaz at Banglewali Masjid on the designated area of first floor, by maintaining social distance. 

Refusing the arguments of Respondent for permission of more people to offer namaz at other floors, the Court said that it would have allowed a reasonable number of people if the situation would have been different and the effect of the widespread virus was not grave. 

Justice Gupta also said that as per DDMA, there was a clear distinction between religious and cultural gatherings.  

Although it was said that the Nizamuddin Markaz mosque could be opened in view of Ramzan, the Central government informed the Delhi High Court that no gathering could be permitted there on account of the latest COVID-19 guidelines. 

It was the Waqf Board’s grievance that although all religious places outside of containment zones were allowed to be opened, the mosque remained locked since March last year. The Board also proposed a plan to facilitate Ramadan prayers at the mosque. 

The matter came into limelight after Nizamuddin Markaz hosted a Tablighi Jamaat gathering during the early days of COVID-19 pandemic in the city.

When the Court sought a response from the Central government on the proposed plan, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed Single Judge Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta that in terms of the April 10 order issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, all social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious/ festival related and other gatherings and congregations are prohibited.

In view of Centre's stand, the Court directed the competent authority to file an affidavit indicating how this direction was being implemented in places including temples, mosques, church etc, in the national capital.

Case title: Delhi Waqf Board vs UOI [W.P.(CRL) 421/2021] dated April 15, 2021