HC: Pray, but within boundaries
The Delhi High Court today directed police to ensure that devotees at a mosque inside a Kalkaji housing society complex confine themselves within its premises while offering prayers.delhi Updated: Apr 21, 2010 01:37 IST
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed police to ensure that devotees at a mosque inside a Kalkaji housing society complex confine themselves within its premises while offering prayers.
The court was hearing a contempt petition filed by RWA of Aravali Apartments against Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal. RWA said police did not comply with a January 2009 order to prevent devotees from encroaching on to the pavements, roads, bylanes and parks near the apartments.
Residents complained that this happened more during Fridays and festivals.
Residents had claimed before the court that “the mosque was an unauthorized construction and an encroachment on public land” and sought its removal. But Delhi Wakf Board argued that the masjid — being in existence for over 100 years — was protected by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
Refraining from a decision on the legality of the construction, the High Court in January 2009 gave the parties the liberty to approach a civil court in this regard. The judges dealing with the delicate issue of right to movement vs religious freedom had to do a balancing act.
Holding that “the namazis have a right to offer their namaz within the boundary of the mosque subject to the determination of the ultimate question in civil proceedings”, they however made it clear that the rights “cannot imply a right to...occupy the area beyond the precincts of the mosque”.
Denying that orders were not being obeyed, Rajiv Nanda, the counsel for the police submitted before Justice G S Sistani that large number of police force deployed outside the mosque always ensured its compliance. He told the court that henceforth some officials would also be deployed. Following the assurance, the court dismissed the contempt petition.