Prior Permission Not Required For Conducting Prayers In One's Own Residence: Madras HC [Read Order]

Prior Permission Not Required For Conducting Prayers In One

"The question of requiring the Petitioner to get prior permission from any authority for assembling and conducting any prayers in his dwelling place per se, without causing nuisance or disturbance to others and without causing hindrance to the general public of the locality, does not arise.”

The Madras High Court quashed a direction issued to a Christian Pastor by the local police restraining him from conducting prayers in his residential premises.

C.Joseph, the Pastor was also required by the Police to attend the peace talks with the Hindu Munnani Party, who had lodged objections, and restrained him from conducting prayers till such peace talks are concluded. Holding that such a direction is without any authority of law, Justice P.D.Audikesavalu said:

"The question of requiring the Petitioner to get prior permission from any authority for assembling and conducting any prayers in his dwelling place per se, without causing nuisance or disturbance to others and without causing hindrance to the general public of the locality, does not arise."

Peace talks were initiated by the Police after Hindu Munnani Party raised objections relating to creating sound pollution and parking of vehicles on road restricting the free movement of public. The police also found that he has not obtained necessary permission for construction of prayer hall and that he is conducting prayers in the prayer hall without getting permission from the Local Authorities.

The court referred to its earlier order [in R.Jeganathan Israel vs. Superintendent of Police] in which it had held that there is no need to get prior permission from any authority for assembling and conducting prayers in a dwelling place without causing nuisance or disturbance to others and without causing hindrance to the general public. In the said judgment, Justice AD Jagadish Chandira had observed:

"It is the duty of the authorities to safeguard the protection of every citizen of this Country to practise constitutional rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India. However, in a civilized Society in the name of religion, activities, which disturb others, in any manner and for bona fide reasons, cannot be permitted and hence, if there is any nuisance caused due to noise pollution or for any other bona fide reasons, it is always open to the authorities to take necessary action under the provisions of the relevant statues. But, before resorting to any action, the authorities, on the basis of concrete evidence, should arrive at a subjective satisfaction that there exists infringement of a right of others, under the Constitution of India, to enforce public order."

Though it quashed the direction issued by the police, the bench added:

"The Petitioner is bound to ensure that while conducting such prayers in his residential premises, no hindrance or disturbance is caused to the general public and for that purpose, it is certainly open to the concerned authorities on the basis of subjective satisfaction with concrete evidence to take necessary action under the provisions of the relevant statutes in accordance with law in the event of any nuisance being caused due to noise pollution or for violation of any statutory provisions or for any bonafide reasons."

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