A plea was filed before Supreme Court to grant permission to hold Muharram procession but today a bench of CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun declined to entertain the petition seeking permission to carry out Muharram processions across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"If we allow this, there will be chaos and one particular community will be targetted for spreading Covid. We don't want that."
The Petitioner had cited the examples of the apex court allowing the Puri's Rath Yatra procession to be held under stipulated standard operating procedures.
Petitioner also went on to cite the recent indulgence of the Supreme Court wherein it had allowed the permission to offer prayers in select Jain Temples for the Jain Paryushan Temple in Dadar & Bycullar.
CJI Bobde explained the differences between the matters. He said,
"You are giving Jagannath Puri example, there it was in one place and one set route where the Rath had to be drawn. We could assess the risk involved and pass the specific order for only Puri. In Jain Temple matter, it was for three temples only and five people at a time..."
CJI also added that just recently, they had allowed people to offer prayers at the Prayushan Festival in a limited capacity at temples of Dadar, Bycullar & Chembur but that was also because State of Maharashtra & the union were before the bench as well.
The Bench also noted that the state governments were not arrayed as parties in the plea, and that a general order encompassing the entire country cannot be passed in this matter.
"We, as a Court, cannot risk the health of all the people."
Petitioner further requested to grant permission to hold procession in Lucknow only, but the Court disallowed the request of petitioner stating that large percentage of Shia community resided there. The Court also directed the petitioner to approach the Allahabad High Court.
2 days ago, the court asked the petitioner's seeking directions to the Union & State Governments for allowing the Mourning Procession to take place in a limited capacity only, i.e. with 5 people participating in the procession and while ensuring that all other safety norms were followed.
Counsel had then submitted that the ritual is performed every year and that he is only asking that 5 people be allowed to do so.
To this Chief Justice SA Bobde replied "But Covid is not there every year".