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Delhi High Court Dismisses Challenge Against Prohibition On Chhath Puja At Yamuna River Banks

Nupur Thapliyal
10 Nov 2021 11:18 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Dismisses Challenge Against Prohibition On Chhath Puja At Yamuna River Banks
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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging the Delhi Government's decision that prohibited devotees to perform Chhath Puja on the banks of River Yamuna after finding no merit in the same. Justice Rekha Palli, who was of the view that the petitioners were perpetuating a petition which was misconceived, noted that the petitioners had neither pointed out as to how...

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging the Delhi Government's decision that prohibited devotees to perform Chhath Puja on the banks of River Yamuna after finding no merit in the same. 

Justice Rekha Palli, who was of the view that the petitioners were perpetuating a petition which was misconceived, noted that the petitioners had neither pointed out as to how the devotees were entitled to insist that they must perform the pooja only on the banks of River Yamuna nor any explanation was given as to why they did not approach the respondent authorities if they were desirous of having additional designated sites in the area. 

The plea filed through Advocate Kamal Kant Jha was preferred by two registered societies claiming that they were engaged in organizing social and religious functions including Chhath Puja in the Sonia Vihar and Wazirabad area. 

The petitioners had approached the Court assailing the order dated 29th October 2021 passed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority wherein it was stated that permission to devotees to perform Chhath Puja was only given on designated sites as set up by the Delhi Government and not on Yamuna river.

"Your prayer is that you want to do it (prayer) in the Yamuna. Its not the scope of the Court. Even otherwise, there is no reason. It doesn't show that you have to go to Yamuna. You can stand wherever you want. Please perform your rituals. I am not coming in your way," Justice Palli said at the outset.

It was the stand of the petitioners that due to their religious faith, they were entitled to perform Puja on the banks of River Yamuna, a right which was curtailed by the Delhi Government without any authority or reasonable reasons.

On the other hand, Gautam Narayan appearing for the Delhi Government vehemently opposed the petition by arguing that the petitioners had given no explanation for belatedly approaching the Court when the impugned order was passed on October 29.

He apprised the Court that a total of 800 sites were designated by the GNCTD across the city and that additional 7 sites were also created in the vicinity of Sonia Vihar and Wazirabad area. He also submitted that in case the petitioners were desirous of having additional designated sites, it was always open for them to approach the respondents by way of an appropriate application which if moved would have received due consideration by the authorities.

"Now this is over today. You can travel a little bit. They cannot bring the designated site at your house. They can consider it next year whether to permit it on Yamuna river or not," the Court said.
"If you are such a religious person, you will travel 7 kms. People travel to Haridwaar in Kanwar," it added.

The Court recorded that the Petitioners do not dispute the fact that the pooja had commenced today and therefore even otherwise no order for alternative designated sites could be passed.

"Not only was the society which claims to be organizing various social and religious functions in the area for many years were free to approach the respondents after passing of the orders dated 29th and 30th October for creation of additional sites in the area but even after November 6 when the list of designated sites in their area were made public, they took no steps to approach the respondents," the Court said in the order.

Accordingly, the petition was dismissed with no orders as to the cost.

Title: CHHATH PUJA SAMAJ SUDHAR SAMITI, SONIA VIHAR & ANR. v. LT. GOVERNOR & ORS.

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