HC rejects plea against ban on Chhath celebrations

Delhi High Court. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday rejected a plea challenging the AAP government’s decision to ban Chhath Puja celebrations at public places like ponds and riverbanks in the Capital owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad remarked that the petitioner, Shri Durga Jan Seva Trust, “has lost sight of the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Delhi, where even as per the government, a third wave is under way”.

“While religious sentiments of all sections of the society must be respected, the right to life and health of the public at large cannot be sacrificed at the altar of a right to celebrate a festival however significant it may be for a particular community,” the High Court remarked.

It highlighted that the daily infection rate in the past one week is between 7,800 and 8,593. “The daily death rate has crossed double figures and has touched 104 just a few days ago. Even as on date, there are 42,004 active cases of COVID-19 infections in Delhi,” the court said.

“In such circumstances, the petitioner/trust cannot expect the respondent/State to permit it to organise Chhat Puja for over two lakh persons at a public place in Delhi,” the court observed.

“...the petitioner/trust’s desire to celebrate Chhat Puja at such a large scale at public places, is belied by the existing ground reality prevalent in Delhi. The petitioner/trust should have been alive to the said situation before approaching the court for such a relief,” the High Court said.

The trust had sought to quash the November 10 order directing all the authorities concerned to ensure that the Chhat Puja celebrations are not be allowed in public places or public grounds or river banks (ghats) or temples etc. in the Capital.

The DDMA had said that the public be encouraged or advised to celebrate the puja at their homes owing to COVID-19 pandemic. The trust had contended that the directions issued by the DDMA “overlooks the religious sentiments of the people and amounts to violating their right to conduct ceremonies at public places”.

The court said “this is the time to contain the infection and not to escalate it,” while dismissing the plea.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 10:38:58 AM |

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