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Decide NGO's representation seeking permitting visitors in religious places, HC tells Delhi govt

ANI | Updated: Sep 14, 2021 14:17 IST

New Delhi [India], September 14 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Delhi Government to decide the representation of a petition seeking direction to consider permitting visitors in religious places subject to strict compliance of COVID protocols.
The Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Tuesday while disposing of the plea said, "We hereby direct the concerned respondent authorities to decide the representation of the petitioner in accordance with the law, rules, regulations and government policies applicable to the facts and circumstances of the case as expeditiously as possible."
The petition was filed by the Distress Management Collective, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), based in Delhi-NCR.
In its petition filed through advocates Robin Raju and Deepa Joseph, the organization sought to direct the respondents Delhi Government and Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) to consider permitting visitors in religious places in Delhi subject to strict compliance of Covid protocols, and alternatively, direct the respondent to take necessary action on representation dated July 25, 2021.
Advocate Raju submitted that the petition was filed keeping in view the present situation. Schools, swimming pools etc, all have been opened. Retd. Justice Kurian Joseph recently also wrote to the Delhi Chief Minister for the same, he added.

The petition stated that as the recent DDMA order dated July 24, 2021 has unlocked the city to a massive extent and permitted all the markets, market complexes and malls to open. Restaurants and bars have been allowed to operate upto 50 per cent of their seating capacity. Cinemas, theatres, multiplexes have been allowed to open upto 50 per cent of their seating capacity.
"This prolonged prohibition on visitors from going to religious places has become a matter of distress for not just religious leaders but to the believers at large.
The petitioner organisation was constrained to move the instant petition as it had received numerous grievances from both the clergy and laity regarding the issue of prohibition of visitors in religious places, even after unlocking almost all those centres where usually throngs gather, " the petition said.
The petition also pointed that there were also no reports nor studies that indicate that religious places had flouted the COVID protocols and were one of the hotspots from where COVID spread. The news that one heard during the pandemic, especially during the second wave was about religious places and the managing committees of worship places playing a proactive role to reach out to the affected and needy by either organizing oxygen langars or setting up quarantine centres, the petition said.
The petitioner said that the respondents by continuing to prohibit visitors from religious places, that too when the number of COVID cases in Delhi has remarkably come down, give an impression that they see religious places solely as places of worship and not a necessity.
"It is herein pertinent to mention that religious places are also institutions that provide mental solace to people at large. The spiritual guidance and counselling from the religious leaders and interaction with other believers give mental strength and relief amid these uncertain and challenging times. It is an undeniable fact that a person will get the above-said experience only by visiting their desired religious place of worship. An online worship service will never be able to provide the same experience when compared with a worship service where believers are physically present at the place of worship, " said the petition. (ANI)