Mumbai

Can’t allow Jain temples to open for Paryushan, State informs HC

Babu Amichand Panalal Jain Temple in Walkeshwar, Mumbai.  

The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday that it cannot allow Jain temples to open for Paryushan from August 15 to 23 in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Pune.

A Division Bench of Justices S.J. Kathawalla and Madhav Jamdar was hearing two petitions filed by Ankit Vora and Shree Trustee Atma Kamal Labdhisurishwarji Jain Gyanmandir Trust. They both sought directions to the State, Chief Secretary, department of Revenue and Forests, Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation department, and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to allow the members of the Jain community to visit the Jain temples to perform puja and offer prayers, particularly during the holy period of Paryushan.

The State informed the Bench that it had rejected the demand of the petitioners in view of the existing COVID-19 guidelines, and submitted an order passed by the secretary of the State Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation department on August 12.

The order said, “If temples are allowed to be opened for performing religious activities, there is an imminent danger of spreading the virus, which may be life-threatening and may even result in loss of life of the entire family. Allowing the claim of applicants by imposing conditions is not a practical feasible option.”

Government pleader Poornima Kantharia said the August 12 decision further said, “If the prayer made in the representation is granted, certainly there will be similar requests for allowing to celebrate these festivals and other numerous festivals of various religions, castes and communities, which will ultimately result in spreading the virus quickly and will open floodgates of novel coronavirus patients.”

Ms. Kantharia said the State’s machinery is overburdened and it can expect the responsible citizens not to make such demands and, therefore, it cannot allow the situation to become so critical that it goes out of hand.

Justice Kathawalla said, “Let us wait for a few days. God is with you and within you. This is a sensitive issue. We have ensured that you get a hearing and get a say from the government. We have the highest regards for every community in the nation.”

On March 23, the State had issued a notification thereby enforcing a lockdown in the entire State and prescribing regulations and measures during the period. Under the guidelines, it was ordered that “all religious places of any denomination shall be closed by issuing suitable prohibitory orders.”

On May 30, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order to open the religious places and places of worship for public on and from June 8. Then on June 4, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) on preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 at religious places.

It was argued by the petitioners that though the State from time to time issued orders easing the restrictions and allowing opening of spas, gyms, beauty parlours, barber shops, liquor shops, malls and market complexes, and also allowing certain number of people to attend marriage gatherings and funeral ceremonies with some restrictions, the members of the public have till date been prohibited from visiting religious places and places of worship. That not permitting opening of the religious places with necessary SOPs in Maharashtra despite the Union of India permitting the same, whilst on the other hand allowing the opening of commercial establishments, is arbitrary, unreasonable and without any basis, they said.


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 12:43:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/cant-allow-jain-temples-to-open-for-paryushan-state-informs-hc/article32349100.ece

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