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Supreme Court refuses permission for Muharram processions citing COVID-19

The Supreme Court on Thursday declined permission to carry out Muharram processions across the country. While hearing a petition filed by Shia leader Syed Kalbe Jawad it said how can the bench pass a general order for the whole country.

The Supreme Court on Thursday declined permission for carrying out nationwide Muharram processions. In its order, the SC asked the Lucknow based petitioner to move before the Allahabad High Court with his plea. The apex court said how can it pass a general order for the whole country.

The bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian
said that allowing Muharram processions in the country would lead to chaos and the targetting of a particular community.

“You are asking for general order and then if we allow this there will be chaos. Particular community will be targetted for spreading COVID. We don’t want that. We as a court cannot risk the health of all the people,” the bench, which heard the matter through video conferencing, said.

The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by Shia leader Syed Kalbe Jawab from Uttar Pradesh. In his petition, he had cited the June order permitting the Rath Yatra festival in Odisha.

The Chief Justice said, “You are referring to the Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra, that was at one place and one set route. In that case, we could assess the risk and pass orders. The difficulty is you are asking for a general order for the whole country.”

Justice Bobde went on to say, “We cannot risk the health of all people. If you had asked for one place, we could have assessed the risk.” The petitioner further asked permission for a procession in Lucknow, citing that majority Muslims of the Shia community resides in the UP capital. The bench in its statement allowed the petitioner to withdraw the petition with the liberty to approach the high court with a limited prayer of holding a procession in Lucknow.

In June, when India was gradually emerging from the nationwide lockdown, the Supreme Court had declined permission for the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra. “Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allowed the rath yatra,” it said. However, five days later the court allowed the procession after the Centre’s appeal.

Last week, Jains were given permission to offer prayers at any one of the three temples in Mumbai
as part of their eight-day Paryushan festival. The court in its decision had allowed them to pray as long as strict SOPs were maintained.

Meanwhile, the number of cases in India has crossed the 3 million mark with 60,472 fatalities reported as of Wednesday.

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