Delhi High Court Prohibits Gathering in Public Places To Celebrate Chhat Puja

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The Order had come in a Writ Petition moved by Shri Durga Jan Seva Trust. The Petition sought to quash and set aside an order passed by the Chairperson of Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on November 10th 2020. The Court deliberated this issue in the matter of Shri Durga Jan Seva Trust v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi.

Facts of the Case

Shri Durga Jan Seva Trust, the Petitioner, was a Trust that organised the Chhat Puja on an annual basis in Kirari MCD Ground. It could accommodate over two lakh persons. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Petitioner moved to DDMA and sought permission to hold a gathering of 1,000 people for the pooja that was on November 20th 2020. The Delhi Government did not allow the Petitioner and concerned authorities to celebrate Chhat Puja in public places/ public grounds/ river banks (Ghats)/temples etc. The State advised them to celebrate the same at their homes at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic infection. 

Submissions Before Court

Ld. Counsel Mr Ranjan Chaudhary appeared for the Petitioner. He contended that while passing the impugned order, the Respondent/authorities had not taken into consideration the fact that Chhat Puja was a major religious festival. Further, it was celebrated widely by the people of Bihar and Eastern U.P. on an annual basis. 

Mr Chaudhary further stated that the Petitioner herein had been organising the Puja for the past several years. Thus, the directions issued by the respondent/authorities not to organise such a Puja during the COVID-19 pandemic overlooked the religious sentiments of the people. This would also violate their Right to conduct ceremonies at public places. 

Court’s Observation

The Court observed that the Petitioner had lost sight of COVID-19 pandemic situation. On the other hand, as per the Delhi Government, the third wave of COVID-19 was already underway. After this, the Court noted that the daily death rate had crossed double figures and had touched 104. Hence, the Court observed that granting permission to celebrate Chhat Puja at such a large scale would result in a high spread of the infection.

Court’s Order

The Division Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad saw no reason to interfere with Delhi Government’s Order. The Court further held that the Right to life and health of the public at large could not be sacrificed at the altar of a Right to celebrate a festival. 

For the original order of the case, Click here: Shri Durga Jan Seva trust v. GNCTD


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