Chandigarh, May 24: The Home Ministry's order to close down all places of worship is justified, said the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday as it junked a plea which called the restrictions a violation of fundamental rights. The bench headed by Justices Rajiv Sharma and Ajay Tiwari noted that religious sites cannot be opened on analogy of the relaxations granted to workplaces. Lockdown 4.0: All Flight Operations, Shopping Malls, Gyms, Religious Places to Remain Shut Till May 31 as Per MHA Guidelines.
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The court was of the view that the MHA restrictions on temples, gurudwaras, mosques, shrines and other places of worship cannot be classified as unconstitutional as the decision has been taken in "larger public interest".
The bench noted that the Centre did not act in a discriminatory manner and its closure order for places of worship was applicable upon all religions. The HC further stated that the measure is temporary - as stated by the government - and is aimed at only preventing the transmission of coronavirus.
“The restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs do not violate any fundamental or legal right of the petitioner or the similarly situated persons. The endeavour of the Ministry is to break the cycle by maintaining social distancing. We will not substitute our wisdom for the wisdom of the Executive decision, which has been taken in the larger public interest," the court was reported as saying.
The petition was filed by Mubeen Farooqi through advocate Rajvinder Singh Bains sought the opening of religious places ahead of Eid ul Fitr and martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjun Dev Ji. It had cited the relaxations granted to businesses establishments in orange and green zones to support its argument. The court, however, noted that such analogy cannot form the basis for allowing places of worship to re-open as it may lead to mass congregations.