No Markaz for now as Delhi HC asks Centre to clarify ban on religious activities

With claims being made over social media that the Delhi High Court has allowed religious gathering at the Nizamuddin Markaz building, the bench of Justice Mukta Gupta on Tuesday said such an order was not passed.

The Delhi High Court rapped Delhi MLA Amanatullah Khan for releasing a video on social media in which he claimed that the bench of Justice Gupta had allowed public gathering and community Namaz.

“How was that announcement made when I have not passed any order,” Justice Gupta asked.

The high court sought a clarification from the Centre whether its order banning all kinds of religious activities and big public gatherings is being uniformly enforced or not. This came during the hearing of a matter related to the refusal of permission to open the Nizamuddin Markaz building for public Namaz during Ramzan.

Read | Nizamuddin Markaz mosque can be made operational during Ramzan, Centre tells Delhi HC

The Central government and the Delhi Police informed the Delhi High Court that all religious, political, social or sports gatherings were barred under current guidelines of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) in view of the spike in Covid-19.

The Nizamuddin Markaz building is locked since March 31 last year when it was vacated following a Tablighi Jamaat congregation during the initial days of the Covid-19 outbreak in Delhi and the rest of the country.

The Centre has told the high court that the Nizamuddin mosque could be made operational during the month of Ramzan that begins this week.

Appearing for the Markaz, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta argued that several religious activities were going on including the Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand.

“No one is being stopped from going to the Kumbh, or from going to Hanuman Mandir on Tuesdays, or church on Sundays,” said Ramesh Gupta.

Justice Mukta Gupta subsequently directed the Centre to file a detailed response on whether the ban on all religious festivals and gatherings was being implemented.

The Delhi Police, meanwhile, filed its inspection report on Markaz — Bangley Wali Masjid — saying that only upto 20 people could be accommodated inside the mosque while maintaining social distancing as per Covid-19 safety protocol.

At present, only five people are allowed at a time to offer Namaz at the Markaz.

In its report, Delhi Police said Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi legislator Amanatullah Khan attempted to “pressurise” the police into reopening the entire seven-storey building.

“The Delhi government itself has prescribed the norms for distancing,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the high court. “Under the current protocol, all public activities are banned,” he said.

The solicitor general argued that the restriction on the Markaz event was not bigoted or based in religion. “There are 13,000 fresh Covid-19 cases in Delhi, coronavirus cannot tell the difference between religions,” he said.

Advocate Ramesh Gupta, however, cited the example of the Kumbh Mela, currently underway at Haridwar in Uttarakhand. He asked whether any guidelines for such large-scale public gatherings had been framed.

The case will be next heard on Thursday.

Source – India Today