The complete prohibition of practices that are essential to our religions is an extraordinary measure, it is very much in proportion to the unprecedented situation we are faced with, owing to the pandemic. The right to practise and propagate religion has been made subject to public order, morality and health, even under the Constitution of India. Adoption of safe practices is needed to win over the health crisis held by Hon’ble Justice Shashi Kant Gupta and Hon’ble Justice Shamim Ahmed in Roshan Khan & Ors. V. State of U.P [PIL No. 840 of 2020].
The facts relate to leading PIL is that petitioners seek to challenge the Government Orders dated 10.08.2020 and 23.08.2020 passed by the State Government, in so far as they prohibit
the petitioners and members of their community, from taking out the Moharram Processions, and further seek the issuance of a direction to the Respondent Authorities to permit them to perform religious mourning rituals connected with Moharram, during the period of ten days i.e. up to 30.08.2020, amid the pandemic restrictions in the State of Uttar Pradesh.
Hon’ble High Court at Allahabad refused to grant permission to hold the Tazia procession. They observed that Tazias there is no doubt that the burial of the Taziyas at the burial ground is a solemn and important part of the custom of Muharram. However, it is necessary to note that every locality has Taziyas, besides various individual families, all of whom have to get to the burial ground since the burial of Taziyas cannot be deputed but has to be done personally. There is no mechanism fathomable, by the means of which it can be ensured that all such persons be permitted to take the Taziyas to the burial ground in a single day while avoiding the risk of transmission of the contagion or following basic rules of social distancing, which are an absolute necessity in these unprecedented times. Another important aspect of the matter is that no restriction can be placed only on certain groups or individuals while permitting the others since that would clearly amount to forming a class within a class, which would be arbitrary and discriminatory.
It is clearly stated that for controlling the spread of Covid-19, the State Government has imposed a complete prohibition on all religious activities that may involve a large conglomeration of people, across communities, and as such the government orders are not discriminatory nor do they target any Community, in particular, and intensity of Covid-19 transmission in the State of Uttar Pradesh, which is alarmingly high. Adoption of safe practices is needed to win over the health crisis. “We need to understand the art of living with the Corona Virus. So, in this testing time, it is not possible to lift the restrictions. We must hope and trust that God would perceive our restraint in our customary practices, not as a slight, but as an act of compassion for our brothers and sisters and give us the opportunity to celebrate all festivals with greater faith and fervour in future. It is only together with cooperation, understanding and support, we as ‘One Nation’, can emerge stronger from these treacherous times and overcome this season of darkness”. Taking all the above consideration the PIL filed has been dismissed to win the situation.