Tolerance for other religious practises is required; this country takes pride in its Unity in Diversity. – Madras High Court

In the Preamble to the Constitution of India “we the people” had determined to establish India as a Secular Republic. Article 15(1), which states that the state shall not discriminate against anyone based on criteria like as religion, and Article 51A(e), which states that it is the Fundamental Duty of every citizen to promote harmony and brotherhood, were also mentioned. The Fundamental Rights and Duties were sacred and binding on courts that dealt with religious matters. These were discussed by the single bench of Honourable Mr. Justice C. V. Karthikeyan in the case of Paulraj vs District Collector and others (W.P(MD)No.11276 of 2020).

The gist of the case is the petitioner is a resident of Neduvilai, Kodaivilai, Maruthancode Post, Kanyakumari District. The petitioner, however, has raised objections particularly against the fifth respondent herein, who had apparently build a church, which in the eyes of the petitioner is causing nuisance because the respondent conducts prayers using loudspeakers through out day and night.  In previous petitions the petitioner sought relief by directing the first and second respondents therein namely, the Superintendent of Police, Kanyakumari and the Inspector of Police, Marthandam Police Station, Kanyakumari District to ensure that the third to sixth respondents therein, who are private individuals cannot use their house for prayer purpose by using loudspeakers and to remove the CCTV cameras put by the third to sixth respondents in their house facing the house of the petitioner herein. However, the present has been filed owing to the fact that the first respondent had passed an order of approval granting building permission for the church and consequential orders have been passed by the fourth respondent therein. It is stated that prior to the issuance of confirmation of such permission, the petitioner was not heard.

The learned counsel for the petitioner had relied on a judgment of learned Single Judge of this Court and the Hon’ble Supreme Court wherein, permission granted to run a church had been examined. In South India Assemblies of God Vs the District Collector, Kanyakumari District and others,(W.P.No.11903 of 2003) the relief sought was of negative nature seeking a Mandamus restraining the right of the petitioner, Assemblies of God to Church situated at Kanyakumari.

The single bench of Honourable Mr. Justice C. V. Karthikeyan observed and stated that “if the first respondent/District Collector either by himself/herself or through the second respondent/Sub Collector, Padmanabhapuram, were to impress upon the fifth respondent to practice tolerance and respect, then I am confident that sense and sensibility would prevail over pride and prejudice.”

Click here to read the judgement

Judgement reviewed by Himanshu Ranjan

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