HC rejects plea to re-open all religious places of worship

Chennai, May 18 (PTI): The Madras High Court on Monday dismissed a PIL seeking to re-open all places of worship, saying it would lead to crowding and the authorities may not be able to control it in the COVID-19 situation.

A Division Bench of Justice M. Sathyanarayanan and Justice Anitha Sumath, dismissing the public interest litigation (PIL) of social activist RK Jaleel, said the petition has no solution to maintain social distancing by the people coming for worship, which was needed to contain coronavirus.

The petitioner said since most of the shops and offices were allowed to function in non-containment zones, the government could open religious institutions too.

He further said the people have already borne the brunt of the COVID-19 lockdown, therefore they should be allowed to visit their respective places of worship to get peace of mind.

When the matter came up, Additional Solicitor General G.

Rajagopalan on behalf of the Central government said freedom of religion is subject to public health and public order as per Article 25 of Constitution of India.

He said if the religious places were opened it may not be possible to control the crowd, and the pandemic would spread further.

Tamil Nadu government pleader Jayaprakash Narayan submitted that even the latest lockdown extended by the Centre till May-end has not exempted religious places from the guidelines issued by it.

The bench, concurring with the submission of Additional Solicitor General and the Government pleader, dismissed the PIL. PTI COR NVG NVG