23 Feb 2022 4:45 AM GMT
The Centre on Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that the aspect of opening of Masjid in city's Nizamuddin Markaz will have to be done in terms of the order passed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).Justice Mukta Gupta was dealing with an application filed in the petition moved by the Delhi Waqf Board seeking to ease restrictions at the Nizamuddin Markaz, which has been...
The Centre on Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that the aspect of opening of Masjid in city's Nizamuddin Markaz will have to be done in terms of the order passed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).
Justice Mukta Gupta was dealing with an application filed in the petition moved by the Delhi Waqf Board seeking to ease restrictions at the Nizamuddin Markaz, which has been locked since March 31, 2020.
The said application was filed by the Wafq Board seeking reopening of Masjid in the Nizamuddin Markaz commonly known as Masjid Bangle Wali owing to the upcoming festival of Shab e-Barat next month.
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.
During the course of hearing today, Senior Advocate Sanjoy Ghose appearing for the Waqf Board referred to the application seeking reopening of the Masjid premises. However the same could not be taken up today in detail due to paucity of time.
"Last time also they were quite clear about this fact that they have no problem in the people going to Masjid. In fact, you people can sort it out," Justice Mukta Gupta remarked orally.
At the outset, Advocate Rajat Nair appearing for the Centre submitted thus:
"May I suggest one thing. There is already a joint inspection report which has been arrived at by both the parties. They have earmarked the areas. It's now only as to how many people may be allowed to go. That would be decided as per the DDMA orders."
Accordingly, taking the said statement on record, the Court ordered thus:
"The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Union of India states that as regards the opening of Masjid is concerned, the same will have to be in terms of the orders of DDMA and he will file a status report in this regards."
Seeking the status report to be filed by the Delhi Police, the Court posted the matter on March 4 for further hearing.
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 Jun 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