Permission sought to hold Christmas prayers

Staff Reporter

Bangalore: The Christian community in Davangere on Tuesday petitioned the Karnataka High Court against what they alleged was highly illegal, arbitrary and illogical decision of the district administration in sealing 10 churches in the district and asking them not to hold any services.

Pastors of three churches in Davangere and several others, all residents of Davangere, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking a direction to the authorities to permit them to hold mass and special prayers in the churches on the occasion of Christmas.

On September 7, 2008, the district administration sealed the churches and directed them not to hold any congregation. It was against these two orders that the petitioners had moved the court.

The petitioners said that when they were meeting representatives of the public and seeking their intervention against attacks on their community, the district authorities had issued notices to them. In some cases, the police had asked them to furnish details (documents) of ownership.

The petitioners termed as highhanded and totally uncalled for the act of the police in asking them to produce building records. They said the locking up of the churches meant that they could not celebrate Christmas. They urged the court to direct the authorities to reopen the churches and also permit them to congregate on the church premises. They said the district administration did not have the authority to prevent them from professing, practising or propagating their faith.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Rammohan Reddy and Justice Keshavanarayana asked the State to place its views on the issue before the court on Wednesday.

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