Do not tolerate breach of ban on religious congregations: HC

Police have not granted permission for Karaga congregation, says govt.

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday said that government should show “zero tolerance” and law enforcing authorities across the State should come down with a heavy hand on any breach of lockdown conditions imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) banning all kinds of religious congregations and closure of all places of worship for the public.

Observing that the objective of a lockdown and imposition of Section 144 is to stop mass congregation to prevent spread of novel corona virus by maintaining social distancing, the bench directed the government to scrupulously implement and enforce the MHA’s guidelines related to religious and other congregations/functions.

A special division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued the directions after the State government clarified that the Bengaluru City Police have not granted any permission for religious congregation for the Karaga festival on the night of April 8.

Terming as “incorrect” a report published in a newspaper indicating that grant of permission for Karaga congregation by the Chief Minister may result in devotees descending on the Sri Dharmarayaswamy temple in large numbers, Additional Advocate General Dhyan Chinnappa made it clear the the city police have not granted permission for the Karaga congregation.

Earlier, the bench, which was hearing PIL petitions through video conferencing on the issues arises due to imposition of lockdown to prevent spread of COVID-19, had sought response from the government when the newspaper report related to Karaga was brought to its notice.

During the hearing, an advocate contended that there will be a large congregation of people at the time of Karaga as already hundreds of people have entered the city to participate in the annual festival.

Besides the MHA’s March 24 order banning religious congregations, and closure of places of worship for the public, the bench also took note of the circulars issued by the State Minority Welfare Department banning public participation for namaz, including jumma prayers, in mosques across the State in view of the lockdown. The bench also pointed out that the MHA’s order also bars social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural or religious functions or gatherings.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:21:59 AM |

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