Article 25 of Constitution of India Is Subject To Public Order, Morality and Health: Bombay High Court

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Extract

The Petitioner filed this Petition before the Bombay High Court for directions for opening temple during Diwali.

Facts

In this petition, the Petitioner was seeking directions to Respondents to allow the Petitioner to open the Jain temples with Standard Operating Procedure during 5 days of Diwali commencing from 13th November to 17th November in the particular period. In the Petition, the Petitioner also sought similar relief to the other Jain temples. 

Arguments on behalf of Petitioner

Ld. Counsel on behalf of Petitioner submitted that the occasion of Diwali is a very important occasion for Hindus, and especially for Jains. He said every day had its importance and during those days, all devotees specially performed pujas. He said Jain culture was for the upliftment of all living beings. According to Jainism, hurting any living beings is considered as a sin.

In support of the Petitioner, counsel said that Maharashtra Government allowed Restaurant, bars, etc. to be kept open when there was a high risk of spread of the virus. The government permitted the BEST buses to run to their full capacity. In this, there was also a high risk of public contact. He said if the government allows all malls, bars, etc. then temples should be allowed too. 

Counsel in support of the Petitioner prayed to the Court to give direction to open the temples during said 5 days during a particular time of 6:00 am to 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm with a limited number of devotees up to 30.

Arguments on behalf of Respondent

Counsel on behalf of Respondent submitted that the Petitioner is comparing temple with bar and malls. Both places were very different. They submitted that if they permitted the Petitioner, that would be discriminatory not only to the Hindu community but also to the other communities, who have not been allowed to open up their places of worship. 

Court’s Observation

Court said if they fully bow down in the principle laid down by the Supreme Court, the Court cannot appreciate the Respondent. The Court said people of India had freedom of conscience under Article 25. Court referred to the case of Viraf D. Mehta v. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and others. In this case, the Court had allowed the Petitioner to perform prayers on 3rd September 2020.

Order

By considering all the facts, the Court allowed the Petitioner to open the temples for puja during the 5 days at a fixed time for not more than 30 persons per hour. 

Also, the Court allowed only two temples which were managed by Petitioners. 

Click here to view the Judgement.


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