2 May 2022 6:15 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Monday allowed reopening of five floors, including Ground floor as well as four floors, of the masjid premises in Nizamuddin Markaz till October 14. Justice Jasmeet Singh extended the operation of the interim order dated April 1, 2022 wherein the mosque was allowed to reopen for offering of prayers during the Ramzan month.The said interim order shall continue to remain...
The Delhi High Court on Monday allowed reopening of five floors, including Ground floor as well as four floors, of the masjid premises in Nizamuddin Markaz till October 14.
Justice Jasmeet Singh extended the operation of the interim order dated April 1, 2022 wherein the mosque was allowed to reopen for offering of prayers during the Ramzan month.
The said interim order shall continue to remain in force till October 14, the next date of hearing.
Public entry was banned at the Nizamuddin Markaz in the aftermath of Tablighi Jamaat members testing positive for Covid-19 in 2020.
This comes in a plea filed by Delhi Waqf Board seeking to ease restrictions at the Nizamuddin Markaz, which has been locked since March 31, 2020.
The Court's permission was in continuation of its previous order dated March 16, 2022 wherein four floors of the masjid premises were allowed to remain open on Shab e-Barat.
It was ordered that the management of the Markaz will ensure that the COVID protocols and social distancing norms are duly followed.
The Court had then asked the petitioner, Delhi Waqf Board, to approach the Police by way of filing an application for reopening of the Masjid during the holy month of Ramzan.
In response to the said application, the Delhi Police had then directed the Management of Nizamuddin Markaz to re-install the missing CCTV cameras at the entrance and the exit gates as well as at the staircase of each floor.
The police had also directed the management to put up a notice board specifying the conditions for entrance of foreign devotees.
The Court had in November last year ordered for a joint inspection to be carried out at the Nizamuddin Markaz for the purpose of demarcation of the three areas namely the religious place (Masjid) where people offer namaz, the place where congregation take place and the residential area which has a hostel.
Earlier, the Centre had informed the Court that it was necessary to preserve the premises of Nizamuddin Markaz as the case involves cross border implications and diplomatic relations with other countries.
It also submitted that the petitioner's fundamental right under Article 26 of the Constitution was curtailed only for a short duration owing to the public order considerations and therefore cannot be said to be ultra vires the Constitution.
The petition stated that the central government vide its guidelines for the phased reopening of public places and facilities after the Covid-19 lockdown, known as "Guidelines for Unlock 1" dated May 30, 2020, allowed for the reopening of a list of religious places outside containment zones from June 8, 2020, yet the Hazrat Nizamuddin area was kept outside the list, as it was said to be in a containment zone.
However, even after it was removed from the list of containment zones in September 2020, the Waqf property was still locked.
It was submitted that the entire premise of the Markaz was locked by the local police after the registration of an FIR under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 against a congregation at the Markaz.
The Markaz which was locked on the pretext of getting the area sanitized, has remained shut since March 31, 2020, the plea elaborated.
The petitioner states that even if the premises is involved in any criminal investigation/trial, "instead of following a primitive method of keeping the entire premises under lock as an 'out of bound area' a modern or scientific method" should be adopted by the Delhi Police and government to ensure minimum interference with religious rights.
The board further said that its representations to the government and police in this regard were unanswered and therefore it was moving this petition, praying for a reassessment of the need for keeping the premises locked, adoption of scientific or advanced methods to secure the condition of interiors of the premises for investigation/ trial purposes, and a direction to the police and government to ensure minimum interference with the operation of the Markaz for religious purposes.
Case Title: DELHI WAQF BOARD Through its Chairman v. GOVERNMENT OF NCT OF DELHI & ANR
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 393