9 Sep 2022 2:08 PM GMT
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea seeking a prohibition on the entry of State's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee into the Islamic religious congregation.The bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj observed that BJP leader and lawyer, Nazia Elahi Khan (petitioner) had not placed any authentic material before...
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea seeking a prohibition on the entry of State's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee into the Islamic religious congregation.
The bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj observed that BJP leader and lawyer, Nazia Elahi Khan (petitioner) had not placed any authentic material before the Court to substantiate her plea raised in the petition.
Nazia had moved the High Court stating that since 2011, CM Mamata Banerjee has been entering Red Road Namaz Congregation (in Kolkata) organized by Calcutta Khilafat Committee and making political speeches against the central Government.
It was her further submission that this year also, she, being a non-muslim woman, entered into the said congregation (that had taken the character of a Mosque at the relevant point in time) and delivered political speeches which is unacceptable.
"... respondent number 6 (CM Banerjee) firstly should be debarred from entering the religious congregation because she is a Hindu and not a Muslim. Secondly, it is a religious practice of the Islamic Community that Muslim Men and Muslim Women must not remain in the religious congregation together during the Eid Ki Namaz that is Muslim Women and Men must be separate during the Eid Ki Namaz."
Further, her plea also argued that by delivering a political speech in the religious congregation, CM Banerjee had converted a religious forum into a political forum and which is against the Fundamental Rights of the Islamic Community
"...Eid Ki Namaz is a very solemn and holy occasion for the Islamic Community as it takes place after the Holy month of Ramadan but respondent number 6 (CM Banerjee) in each and every Eid Ki Namaz occasion makes political speeches against the Ruling Party in the Central Government and that takes away all the solemn nature within the said Eid Ki Namaz and is absolutely unacceptable as a religious forum can never be used as a political forum. Such usage of a religious forum into a political forum is against the Fundamental Rights of the Islamic Community in India as enshrined in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India as a result of which this instant Public Interest Litigation is being filed before this Hon'ble Court. Respondent number 6 states that the Ruling Party in the Union of India follows the policy of divide and rule and this further provokes the Muslims in that religious congregation not only against the Central Government but also against the Hindu Community. Such provocative speech in a religious occasion is illegal and without any religious or legal backing and it further shows that respondent number 6 who is referred to as the Supremo of the Ruling Party in the State of West Bengal plays with the sentiments of the Muslims only for political gain which is also incorrect."
Against this backdrop, the petitioner had, inter alia, sought a direction to the DGP, WB Police, and Kolkata Police commissioner to debar CM Banerjee from entering such religious congregations and delivering political speeches.
However, the High Court dismissed her plea as it took into account the submission made by the Counsel for respondent No. 5 (Calcutta Khilafat Committee) that since 1970 the Chief Ministers of the State are attending Eid-Ul-Fitr and Eid-Ul-Adha prayers and that not only Muslim women but Hindu women also can participate in that prayers.
Consequently, the Court went on to dismiss the PIL plea by observing thus:
"Since Counsel for the petitioner has failed to substantiate the plea raised in the petition from any authentic material and also considering the stand of the respondent No. 5 and the material pointed out by the learned Advocate General, we are of the opinion that no case for entertaining the present public interest petition is made out, which is accordingly dismissed."
Case title - Nazia Elahi Khan v. The State of West Bengal and Others
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 302
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