Plea seeks permission to visitors in religious places subject to Covid-19 protocol: Delhi High Court directs Govt to decide

  • Shaheen Parween
  • 01:47 PM, 14 Sep 2021

The Delhi High Court today directed the Delhi Government to treat as representation a plea to consider permitting visitors in religious places subject to strict compliance with Covid-19 protocols.

The order was passed by the division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on a plea filed by a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Distress Management Collective (DMC) that has submitted that the order dated Jul 24, 2021 passed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority has already unlocked the city to a massive extent and has permitted all the Markets, Market Complexes and Malls to open.

The petition filed through Advocates Robin Raju and Deepa Joshi submits that though all the specified places have opened up to some extent, the foresaid circular continues to prohibit visitors from religious places.

“This prolonged prohibition on visitors from going to religious places has become a matter of distress for not just religious leaders but to the believers at large. The petitioner organisation was constrained to move the instant petition as it had received numerous grievances from both the clergy and laity regarding the issue of prohibition of visitors in religious places, even after unlocking almost all those centres where usually throngs gather. The respondents by continuing to prohibit visitors from religious places, that too when the number of Covid cases in Delhi have remarkably come down, gives an impression that they see religious places solely as places of worship and not a necessity. It is herein pertinent to mention that religious places are also institutions that provide mental solace to people at large”, the plea states.

It has further been pointed out that the Supreme Court on July 3, 2020 in Nishikant Dubey v Union of India (SLP(C)8716 of 2020) had also observed that live streaming cannot be a substitute for physical visit of places of worship.

The petitioner has submitted that the order to prohibit visitors only from religious places violates Article 25 of the Constitution which guarantees the freedom to profess and practise one’s religion.

The petitioner has sought a direction to permit a restricted number of visitors to religious places by placing responsibility on the Managing Committees of religious places to ensure that Covid-19 appropriate behaviour is strictly complied with.

Case Title: Distress Management Collective vs GNCTD