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

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New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) The Centre told the Delhi High Court on Monday that the Nizamuddin Markaz mosque can be made operational for devotees to offer prayers during the month of Ramzan which is expected to begin from April 14.

The submission was made before Justice Mukta Gupta by the central government during the hearing of a plea by the Waqf Board seeking opening of the Nizamuddin Markaz where the Tablighi Jamaat congregation was held amid the COVID-19 pandemic and was locked since March 31 last year.

On March 24, the Centre had said that 50 persons chosen by the Waqf board can be allowed to pray at the mosque during the 'shab-e-barat' holiday.

Advocate Rajat Nair, appearing for the Centre, told the court on Monday that offering of prayers at the mosque during Ramzan should be subject to the guidelines issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) with regard to social distancing and other precautions in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases in the national capital.

Nair also told the court that the names of the office bearers and other staff who will be running, managing and dealing with the day-to-day operational issues of the mosque be given to the Station House Officer (SHO) concerned and these persons would be permitted to be present there throughout the day during the holy month.

Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta and Nair also told the court that a joint inspection would be carried out on Monday itself by the SHO of police station Hazrat Nizamuddin and the office bearers of the mosque.

They said the inspection would be carried out in the presence of advocate Wajeeh Shafiq, the lawyer for the Waqf board, and a member of the Board -- Himal Akhtar.

'The exercise of measuring the area of the mosque where the devotees can offer namaz five times in the day, will be carried out today itself and as per the guidelines issued by the DDMA, keeping the distances required to be maintained, blocks will be made at the place where the prayer mats can be put for the devotees to offer namaz,' they told the court.

They also said that CCTV cameras would be installed on Tuesday to ensure safety and security of the premises and the persons coming there to offer prayers.

Taking note of these submissions, the court listed the matter for further hearing on Tuesday.

The board, in its plea, has contended that even after unlock-1 guidelines permitted religious places outside containment zones to be opened, the markaz -- comprising the Masjid Bangley Wali, Madarsa Kashif-ul-uloom and attached hostel -- continues to be locked up.

It has further contended that even if the premises was part of any criminal investigation or trial, keeping it 'under lock as an out of bound area' was a 'primitive method' of enquiry process.

An FIR has been registered under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, Foreigners Act and various provisions of the penal code in connection with the Tablighi Jamaat event held at the markaz and the subsequent stay of foreigners there during the COVID-19 lockdown. PTI HMP SA