Situation in Maharashtra not yet conducive to reopening of temples: Bombay HC
The two-member HC division bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Surendra Tavade, was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Associate for Aiding Justice, seeking reopening of places of worship for all faiths.Updated: Aug 14, 2020 17:43 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday refused to interfere with the Maharashtra government’s decision not to allow religious places of worship to reopen owing to the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak and reiterated that the situation is not yet conducive for such relaxations.
The two-member HC division bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Surendra Tavade, was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Associate for Aiding Justice, seeking reopening of places of worship for all faiths.
Advocate Dipesh Siroya, the petitioner’s counsel, submitted before the court since the Central government has allowed reopening of temples and also because the pandemic situation in Maharashtra has improved, the state government should follow suit.
He pleaded that the government might not allow religious functions to be held in temples and could also restrict the number of devotees’ visit to a shrine, but the public can still be allowed darshan.
The bench, however, refused to accept the claim that the pandemic situation in Maharashtra has improved.
“Please pray at home and if have some love left for the humanity, please don’t press for these prayers,” said the bench. “If the situation improves, this court, being the temple of justice, will be the first to reopen, before any other temple opens for devotees,” it added.
Nisha Mehra, assistant government pleader, opposed the PIL and pointed out that the state government on Wednesday (August 12) had rejected the representations for reopening of temples, and a co-ordinate bench had refused the prayer for interim relief for reopening of Jain temples for the nine-day holy festival of Paryushan, which starts from Saturday (August 15).
The bench also directed Siroya to clarify the status of the petitioner body after noticing that it has been registered as a company.
“How can a company espouse religious rights?” the bench asked.
The PIL will be heard next on Tuesday (August 18).