A petition has been filed before Delhi High Court challenging completely prohibiting religious gatherings in the NCT of Delhi on the eve of Christmas.
The petition has been filed by Kamlesh Jacob, a senior citizen and an educationist, through advocates Advocates Manoj V George, Shilpa Liza George, Akriti Seth, Amit Kumar and Palak Arora.
The petitioner said that she is aggrieved by the impugned orders of the Delhi Government completely prohibiting religious gatherings in the NCT of Delhi at the eve of Christmas all of a sudden without any prior notice.
Interestingly, the Respondents while permitting bars, restaurants, auditoriums, etc to function with 50 per cent capacities and theatres to function with 100 per cent capacity, has completely barred religious gatherings, which is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution along with the right to freedom of religion to profess and practice, as envisaged and guaranteed under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution, the petitioner said.
"All ardent devotees of Christianity who have been undergoing lent season for last 25 days have been prohibited in Delhi from attending Chapel Masses on the eve of Christmas but the citizens are allowed to have gala dinners and commercial activities and shopping etc in Christmas. The selective exclusion of religious places of worship is in violation to constitutional principles," the petitioner said.
The petitioner stated that Delhi Disaster Management Authority, in its public order dated December 15, prohibited religious gatherings completely, in view of the Coronavirus but had permitted religious worship places to function as per COVID-19 protocols.
"The circular of the first respondent further referred to the second respondent's order No. 492 and provided that no religious gatherings and congregations will be allowed and it was extended to gatherings for celebrating Christmas or New Year in NCT Delhi thus bringing Carols services and other Christmas related worship under its umbrella. The issue in hand is that the Respondent State is the only the State in India which has imposed a blanket ban on religious gatherings even though Omicorn is a global pandemic affecting the entire world," the petitioner said.
Henceforth, the petitioner has sought to quash the impugned Orders dated December 15 and December 22 of the Respondents, to extent of prohibiting the religious gatherings during Christmas/New year at religious places of worship, and in furtherance direct the Respondents to permit worship services in churches, for Christmas and New Year subject to adherence of all enhanced COVID-19 protocols.
The petitioner also urged the Delhi High Court to issue the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in adherence to SOPs dated March 1, 2021, issued by the eMinistry of Health for any such worship services conducted in Churches during Christmas and New Year.